“What we are really searching for is a language that heals [our] relationship [with the rest of the natural order], one that takes the side of the amazing and fragile life on our life-giving earth … We are looking for a tongue that speaks with reverence for life, searching for an ecology of mind. Without it, we have no home, have no place of our own within the creation. It is not only the vocabulary of science we desire. We want a language of that different yield. A yield rich as the harvests of earth, a yield that returns to us our own sacredness, to a self-love and respect that will carry out to others.”
—Linda Hogan, Dwellings
The women of Calama, in the Atacama Desert, in northern Chile, have been looking for their loved ones since 1973, when dictator Augusto Pinochet violently seized power from the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. This project is a book of photographs that trace the journey of these women to unearth the evidence of the men who were taken from them, summarily executed, and disappeared, in the campaign of terror that followed the military coup.
From Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute:
During the past two summers, Pakistan was hit with catastrophic floods. The record flooding in the late summer of 2010 was the most devastating natural disaster in Pakistan’s history. The media coverage reported torrential rains as the cause, but there is much more to the story. When Pakistan was created in 1947, some 30 percent of the landscape was covered by forests. Now it is 4 percent. Pakistan’s livestock herd outnumbers that of the United States. With little forest still standing and the countryside grazed bare, there was scant vegetation to retain the rainfall.
Pakistan, with 185 million people squeezed into an area only slightly larger than Texas, is an ecological basket case. If it cannot restore its forests and grazing lands, it will only suffer more “natural” disasters in the future. Pakistan’s experience demonstrates all too vividly why restoring the earth is an integral part of Earth Policy Institute’s Plan B to save civilization. Restoring the earth will take an enormous international effort, one far more demanding than the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild war-torn Europe and Japan after World War II. And such an initiative must be undertaken at wartime speed before environmental deterioration translates into economic decline, just as it did for the Sumerians, the Mayans, and many other early civilizations whose archeological sites we study today.
Our natural systems are the foundation of our economy. We can roughly estimate how much it will cost to reforest the earth, protect topsoil, restore rangelands and fisheries, stabilize water tables, and protect biological diversity. The goal is not to offer a set of precise numbers but rather to provide a set of reasonable estimates for an earth restoration budget.