Swimming Lessons: Keeping Afloat in the Age of Technology

Swimming Lessons: Keeping Afloat in the Age of Technology

Swimming Lessons: Keeping Afloat in the Age of Technology

Swimming Lessons: Keeping Afloat in the Age of Technology

Synopsis

David Ehrenfeld is a highly esteemed writer on ecology and conservation biology. The founding editor of The Journal of Conservation Biology and author of The Arrogance of Humanism and Beginning Again, his new book is an elegant study of the cost to human dignity and potential, of the shrinking wilderness and the ongoing degredation of the environment. He ruminates on the impacts of short-sighted governmental and economic policies, and of new technologies on human values and communities, tracing the human impacts upon the urban, agricultural and wilderness environments. Ehrenfeld has a unique, unmistakable voice as a major spokesperson for the conservation ethic and the human values implicit in environmentalism and conservation biology. This book should appeal strongly to readers of Ehrenfeld's earlier books and essays, and reach and satisfy a broad constituency on the green end of the political spectrum.

Excerpt

When I was in medical school in the early sixties, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was at its height, and the possibility of a nuclear inferno seemed—and probably was—very real. Those were the days of the Cuban missile crisis, of constant nuclear testing by both sides, of belligerent threats and counter-threats, and of the ubiquitous presence of nuclear fallout shelter signs at subway entrances and on large, public buildings. At that time, the hands of the symbolic clock printed on the cover of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, indicating the estimated danger of a nuclear exchange, were set at one minute to midnight. Many people were frightened; I can remember sitting with my classmate, Bill Kates, and talking about the fastest escape routes out of Boston in the event of an attack. I seriously considered moving to New Zealand, which, because it was on the opposite side of the globe from America and Russia, appeared safer to me.

As it turned out, I never gave any of my escape strategies a trial run. It's just as well; in retrospect they were pretty silly. Others did more. Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, was alleged to have built an underground bomb shelter for his personal use. Later, according to reports, it was seriously damaged by one of the brush fires that are so . . .

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