Posted by: atowhee | July 8, 2016


I have been working on a short book describing the history of environmental change in San Francisco from the time of the Coastanoans through colonization to the present.  It is a look at the power and complexity of changes wrought by man on nature.  I hope to have the book in print by the end of this year.  Let me know if you’re interested in getting a copy.

Today I think I have finally found the appropriate conclusion for this book:

“John Muir wrote: ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.’

Aldo Leopold explained for us ‘What we call wilderness is a civilization other than our own… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from the conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.  It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community…’

Rachel Carson emphasized the urgency of the need for humans to consciously consider our role on the planet:  ‘Dr. Schweitzer has told us that we are not being truly civilized if we concern ourselves only with the relation of man to man.  What is important is the relation of man to all life.  This has never been so tragically overlooked as in our present age, when through our technology we are waging war against the natural world.  It is a valid question whether any civilization can do this and retain the right to call itself civilized.  By acquiescing in needless destruction and suffering, our stature as human beings is diminished.’

Today it is clear that the mere survival of humans is in question.  Will we make this planet uninhabitable for warm-blooded mammals that need protein, fresh water and clean air to survive?

Days and seasons will cycle past.  Microbes multiply; eons come and go; solar systems move further apart; evolution persists.  Yet the human era may be only a hiccup in geological time, or it may last millions of years longer and see Earthly life spread to the far reaches of our galaxy.  We can be sure that our hubris and technology have now made us as demigods to the other life on this planet.  What we do and don’t do has become a matter of life and death.  If we wish to survive we must aid the survival of our fellow beings, regardless of their economic value.”

The book will be called Now and Then, A History of San Francisco’s Natural History.


Of manmade ecological damage that we have to stop:

Dying kelp forests in the ocean.

Climate change stress on numerous species.



  1. Beautifully expressed as always, Harry. I will happily order your book. Thank you… Cricket

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Of course I want a copy of this book! It was only December when you told me you were researching it. No grass growing under Harry! m a P S How are your tomatoes coming along? I think mine are going to be good as long as I keep a handle on the watering. Oh yes, I must also give them another dose of fertilizer now that the fruit is beyond golf-ball size. Friends fertilized at that time last year and because I did not, they beat me out!!

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