Saving life-support systems

There is a request to subscribe to a petition that is circulating via e-mail which I want to bring to the attention of you both, my dear readers. Rather than forwarding it to you and clogging your mail boxes, I’m providing a summary here and including a link where you can learn more and, if either of you is so inclined, sign the thing.

Stephen R. Carpenter, an eminent biologist, wrote a letter to President-elect Barak Obama. In that letter, Professor Carpenter outlined the need for action on a set of critical steps that must be taken to protect the future of humans (and other life forms) on this planet. It is a rational plea for the US to take leadership in saving the environmental systems that sustain life on Earth.

Here’s the abridged version:

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations on your election, which has created a sense of optimism in America that has never occurred before in my lifetime.

Yet earth’s life support systems have deteriorated more in our lifetimes than in any other era of human history. With earth’s population increasing, and consumption per person growing much faster than population, humans are heating the climate, polluting air and water, degrading landscapes and turning coastal oceans to dead zones. America’s food supply depends on a few fragile crops, grown using practices that degrade soil, air and water to yield foods of low nutritional value that harm our health. The U.S. is not investing in the education and innovation needed to create agriculture and energy technologies that can get us through the 21st century. Details are found in a consensus report of more than 1300 leading scientists from more than 90 nations including the U.S. ( These findings support the following priorities for your presidency.

Decrease America’s dependency on coal and oil and increase the supply of energy from non-polluting technologies….

Stop subsidizing agriculture that destroys land, water and health….

Have a population policy….

Invest in the education and innovation needed to create a society that could thrive in the 21st century and beyond….

Sincerely yours,

Steve Carpenter

Stephen Alfred Forbes Professor of Zoology
Center for Limnology
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin 53706 USA

Follow this link to read the full document—and sign it. To learn more about Professor Carpenter, jump to this page. I’d also appreciate it if you’d pass along the link to others. (If you want to learn more about limnology, see Wikipedia’s page.)


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