Concept of Climate and sustainability not “around” in the 70’s?

Taking wonder and awe and the magic of light in the natural world to its juncture with the global crisis of climate disruption, I meandered through the PBS archives today. Sparked by a blog posted in a list on the WritersMarket web page that linked to a PBS Newshour report that included an updated climate zone map for farmers and gardeners. Having paid attention as a gardener to those multi-colored zone maps for years, studying them in miniature on the backs of seed packets as long as I can remember, I clicked on the link. “Page not found”. Well no wonder, the link is over two years old. No longer news.

I can’t remember ever hearing about that map being changed. Note to self to look into that. Meanwhile, scanning the PBS site for possible recent links I scroll past screen after screen of show clips under the “Science and Nature” topic. After a dozen various topics the “more” click leads to episode after episode of “sex in the wild”, “the ape who went to college” and “my wild affair” apparently about an elephant who was adopted by a human Mom.

Interesting, yes, however PBS seems as caught up in the national head in the sand attitude about climate as every other news organization. So I got more specific in my search, thinking either I am going to locate this article posted in what is billed as a “top weblog”, or, failing that, find something more recent relating to climate.

So far, having scrolled through a couple of dozen articles ranked by “Relevance”, I come up with nothing more recent than early 2013. So I switched to sorting by date. Now a bunch of articles that seem to have little to do with climate until I get down the page about “Risky Business Project quantifies climate change costs”. SO I guess someone at Wall Street is talking about the impact on investors and how to gamble on the climate.

In another article also a couple of years old,

Hurricanes and Climate Change


  • By John McQuaid
  • Posted 11.15.12
  • NOVA I find this shocking item: “Global sea levels have risen approximately 1.7 mm per year between 1950 and 2009, and at an accelerated pace of 3.3 mm from 1993 on. This is due to climatic changes.”

That is about as blunt as it gets. A nearly doubled rise in sea level over the last 20 years from an already measured rise in the preceding 40.

On to another tidbit that took my breath away, in an article titled

Debate Over on Climate Change, Says Chief UN Climate Negotiator

the current executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and who hails from a family with two former presidents of Costa Rica, Christiana Figueres responds to a question:

“Was environmental sustainability something that you remember discussing around the family dinner table at an early age?

“At the dinner table–no, because I don’t think the concept of sustainability was something that was around in the 1960s and ’70s. That came later.”

THE CONCEPT WASN’T AROUND, she THINKS??? I am outraged. The 60’s AND 70’s? Where was this head of UN Climate negotiations in the 60’s and 70’s that she was unaware of the impacts she would later be weighing in on for the WORLD. I try not to overdo the all caps, but this is the only way I know to express my shock at this statement. She was not at just any dinner table. Her family includes heads of state who one would think have a slightly more elevated sense of what is going on at a global scale than the average family back when families did still talk at dinner tables (but that is another topic entirely).

I was in college learning about sustainability and the dangers of a flow through economic model in the early to mid 70’s. I remember conversations at the dinner table in the 50’s and early 60’s about the need to protect tree canopy and garden organically. There was certainly discussion about the concepts of sustainability in the early 70’s sufficient to spark the nascent National Parks of Ecuador to promulgate rules they knew were needed to sustain the ecosystem of the remote Galapagos Islands. Yosemite National Park started its first road closure shuttle bus system in 1970. That didn’t come out of nowhere. Someone was talking the “concept” of sustainability in the 60’s to make that decision implemented in the first year of the 70’s. The first Earth Day was in 1970. The “Concept wasn’t around?”

I will leave this at that and if any readers have found their way to this page ask the question, When did you first become aware of the concept of sustainability? Was it before, during, or after the 1960’s and 70’s? How did you hear about it? Was it being discussed at your family dinner table?

About heinsight2010

Living into my legacy years in Northwestern Washington, gathering my memories and experiences into a coherent whole to make my mark in the world, I write, paint, walk, talk, share stories, dance and learn my way through the changes of life, while finding ways to contribute to sustainable community with as much love and compassion as I can.
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2 Responses to Concept of Climate and sustainability not “around” in the 70’s?

  1. says:

    There aren’t that many new ideas in the world.
    Sustainability? Just a synonym for conservation suggesting that environment degradation has turned critical. President Carter got my attention with his Malaise Speech. Imagine if we had accepted his thinking 40 years ago…

  2. heinsight2010 says:

    Thanks, 24-6, I just looked up the “malaise speech”. I realized I missed it because I was ensconced in a fire lookout for the summer, when it was televised. I was not watching TV nor listening to much radio other than Park Service and Forest Service and certainly not driving anywhere! I even stayed at or near the lookout for all but two sets of my days “off”. The suggestions expressed are as worthy of consideration now as they were then. “I’m asking you for your good and for your nation’s security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit, and to set your thermostats to save fuel…. I have seen the strength of America in the inexhaustible resources of our people. In the days to come, let us renew that strength in the struggle for an energy-secure nation.”

    What would it take to get more of us to follow that advice?

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