Also See: Table of Contents,
Endorsements, and Purchase Information
Chris Maser is a personal friend of mine and a respected colleague. I consider him one of the best role models for professionals and scientists who choose the treacherous path of citizen advocacy. But Maser has gone beyond just advocacy for better science. He's been able to communicate and advocate the need for internal, personal change as a precursor to changing the external, physical landscape.
"His thoughtful and informative book provides an abundance of facts and ideas about the war our culture is waging against nature. Unlike most books that sound the alarm about environmental catastrophe, however, Maser's insights equip us to save our environment—and our culture—from the road to extinction.
"The author knows that our society traditionally views nature as a source of endless, material wealth. Yet, we are at the same time capable of feeling deep spiritual love for the beauty of nature. We revere our "spacious skies," then pour pollutants into them. We praise our "shining seas," then fish them to near-extinction. We love our "purple mountains' majesty above the fruited plain," then plow the plains and clear-cut the forests, destroying the habitat of our fellow creatures
"Trained as a scientist, Maser refuses to confine his thinking to one narrow discipline. He calls upon economics and psychology to show how we view a forest—either as a landscape we value for its beauty alone or predominantly as a "resource" for the price of its timber. Using history as a backdrop, Maser provides evidence of past civilizations that failed mostly because of the exploitive way their cultures viewed nature.
"While groups of human beings can be very adaptable, living almost anywhere, from deserts to ice caps, culture is far more vulnerable to extinction. Maser warns that a culture that clashes with its environment cannot repair the damage through technological "management." It is thus highly vulnerable to extinction.
"'We can, however, manage ourselves,' Maser writes with hope. His message is simple: to restore the despoiled landscape, we must work on our "internal landscape" before the clear-cutting, the toxic waste dumping, and the hunger and poverty can be halted.
"Second, we must realize that change starts at home. Although our area of concern is global, we must determine how we can use our individual power to create effective change where we feel the deepest commitment. Whether we are teachers, carpenters, sales clerks, or foresters, each of us can wield considerable influence locally and use it to create the changes needed to bring us to a sustainable society globally. Using our influence means talking with and informing our immediate families and friends, electing political leaders and commissioners who hold a reverence for the land, and revising the way our companies do business.
"Change will come from motivated individuals, as Maser reminds us, when we human being honor the inextricable, spiritual bond we have with the natural world and all living things."
Association of Forest Service
Employees for Environmental
(Return to Top of Page)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I—NATURE AS CREATIVE HARMONY
CHAPTER 1: A GLOBAL IMPERATIVE
CHAPTER 2: THE UNIVERSE IS BORN
CHAPTER 3: DIVERSITY, THE QUALITY OF BEING DIFFERENT
Scale, from the Microscope to Infinity
Oh, what chemistry!
Diversity in Time
Life, The Wonder of It All
How Diversity Compounds Itself
Perception, What I See that You Don't
Diversity as a Matter of Relationship
Oh, what chemistry!
When a Chair is Not a Chair
Context Affects Relationship
CHAPTER 4: CREATION AND EXTINCTION
Can Rocks Change, Too?
What is a Species?
Where Do Species Come From? Where Do They Go?
How Species Enrich the World
When Habitats Change
PART II—CULTURE AS AN END IN ITSELF
CHAPTER 5: EVOLUTION AND HUMANITY
Language, The Key To Conscious Evolution
Our Cultural Choices
People and the Land Are One
How We Think
Specialization and the Fate of Cultures
CHAPTER 6: OUR EUROPEAN HERITAGE
CHAPTER 7: DUALITY AND THE WESTERN MYTH
CHAPTER 8: PURPOSELY-CREATED EXTINCTION
The Trilogy of Extinction
Intellectually Created Extinction
The Economics of Extinction
WA Lesson In A Box
Extinction as a Moral Issue
It's Our Choice
PART III…CULTURE AS CREATIVE HARMONY
CHAPTER 9: HOW WE SEE TODAY'S OUTER LANDSCAPE
The Landscape as Nature's Kaleidoscope
Scale, Nature's Measure
CHAPTER 10: INNER VS OUTER LANDSCAPES
On the Eagle's Wing
Mythology and Lifestyle
Equity and Balance
Roads and Water
CHAPTER 11: THE QUESTIONS WE ASK
What Is Necessary Environmentally, Spiritually, and Materially for Us, and for Our Children and Their Children, to Have a Quality Lifestyle?
What Do We Mean when We Speak of Sustainability?
CHAPTER 12: WHERE CULTURE MEETS NATURE
The Cornerstones of a Culturally-Sustainable Environment
The Choice of Introductions
Patterns Across the Landscape
The Window of Our Cultural Soul
And a Sense of Gardening
CHAPTER 13: A QUESTION OF MORAL CHOICE
Do We Owe Anything to the Future?
What Legacy Shall We Leave the Children?
REFERENCES (Return to Top of Page)
"Chris Maser is an all-too-rare voice of sanity in the global eco-crisis; he understands that human beings can never know enough to 'manage' the earth successfully."
Host of The Nature of Things
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
"Maser makes a compelling case for the importance of maintaining Nature's processes, which ultimately sustain the quality of our life."
R.S. Whalely, Ph.D.
State University of New York's
College of Environmental Science and Forestry
"Maser is a visionary who shows how culture can be brought into creative harmony with Nature. ... Only when we heal ourselves can we begin to heal the wounds we have inflicted on nature."
author of Deep Ecology: Living As If Nature Mattered
"When I sent out my review of Chris Maser's The Redesigned Forest on Eco-Watch a couple of years ago, it caused quite a stir. But that was then. We are just now beginning to look at the world differently. Recently , Chris Maser wrote GLOBAL IMPERATIVE and challenged humankind to take responsibility for the future.
"Global Imperative sums up Chris Maser's perspectives on life, living, creation, science, nature, and culture. But it is more! Global Imperative is a challenge to humankind—we who take such a prominent role in the creation of the world and our place in it. It is a challenge to embrace a new world view, or paradigm, where time and space are highlighted as important referents—referents that were neglected by a world view that has outlived its usefulness. On this Maser concludes:
That we must redesign the Earth is a given, simply because we exist. How we go about redesigning the Earth is another issue.
In redesigning the Earth, sustainability is a dimension in the scale of time, a dimension we ignore at our peril as we consider how we will treat our available resources. The paradigm within which our decisions are made today in economics, agriculture, and the determination of yields in forestry is based on a timeless view of reality. This economic view of quantitatively constant values, such as the notion of the unchanging biological fertility of the soil, is both mechanistic and ecologically naive.
Further, such concepts of sustained yield in timber, sustained yield in finances, and sustained growth in economics are all efforts to deny the existence of time. Evolution, in this view, is reduced to a mechanical process without any place for the novelty of change; it is a clockwork world with no capacity for a creative process. It allows only reversible and qualitiless locomotion, like a train running endlessly back and forth on a track [Pp. 201-202].
"Some believe Chris Maser to be a 'green evangelist' and have dismissed his work, especially his book The Redesigned Forest (1988), as unscientific since it didn't keep within the rigid framework of their science. This is unfortunate. But we live in one of those moments in history when we are changing our perception of the world and the science we use to measure and evaluate it. In time our science and culture will reflect the new—not the old—world view. Global Imperative helps us better understand this moment in history and the changes we are going through, but also stresses the responsibilities we must face to create a meaningful future as a legacy to those who follow in our path. In Maser's words:
As human beings, we participate in the creation of the world in which we live, because our very existence and that of every other living thing is involved in this on-going act of Creation. As conscious co-creators, each generation of human beings is the moral ecological guide for the generations to come. In this sense, our impressions of our ancestors are reflections of the care they took of the land we inherited. As ancestors of the generation of the future, we will have their impressions of us mirrored in the care we take of the land they inherit.
Thus, if we would leave a more favorable impression than we received, we must begin now, consciously, to create a new paradigm for our rusteeship of the land, one based on a sense of place and permanence, a sense of ecological health and sustainability, a sense of creation and landscape artistry, and a sense of humility and humanity [P. 238-239].
"If we follow Maser's path, we will be led to questions more than answers. But the questions will be new questions, and that is good. If 'the old questions and the old answers have led us into the mess we are in today,' as Maser asserts, then 'only when we are willing to risk asking really new questions can we find really new answers.' If you believe that new questions and answers are imperative, get Maser's book. If you doubt that new questions are needed, then carefully read both Global Imperative and the cited reference materials. You may find yourself at the threshold of a whole new world."
"'So, change, which includes both creation and extinction is the basis of the world around us. As such, change is the catalyst of diversity ... the richness of the world. We are losing the diversity of life worldwide.'
"Internationally recognized forest ecology expert and consultant, Chris Maser, takes us ever so lightly through the birth of the Universe to creation-extinction and onto the evolution and possible destiny of humanity. This book covers so much ground so softly, always respecting nature's wisdom and humanity's freedom of choice. For example, he looks at the metamorphosis of a forest and how in North America we have chosen to try to eliminate old-growth forests in favor of plantations of trees because intellectually this seems more efficient to maximize profits. This choice eliminates the huge panorama of biodiversity associated with a real forest; animals, soil renewal, and organisms and processes thereby decrease. Thus begins the 'trilogy of extinction [which,]—beginning in secret with intellectually created extinction, passing through the hidden economics of extinction, and completed with the visible manifestation of extinction—is the result of the linear, product-oriented thinking of our Western Society.' Ultimately, this is a crisis of our personal [inner] landscapes that manifest in the outer landscape. There are no quick fixes and our only real choice is to quickly become a society where biological richness is a measure of economic health.
"Much of this you have heard before, but not this well put together. Our animal-environmental nature, economic and political nature, and freedom of choice is gently interwoven in a detached way that ends with, ' … which baton we pass … will reflect some of the many faces of creation and some of the many faces of extinction in all their multitudinous dimensions, faces that are but a reflection of the Eternal Mystery.' Good stuff, humbly offered!"
Sweet Fern 3(3):19, Summer 1993.
"A conservation leader once said to me, 'Read Chris Maser for the best 12 pages ever written on the Northern Flying Squirrel. But you've got to wade through his recent spiritual conversion.' So I read this new, book-length essay by Maser trying to brush aside his spiritual vine maple branches while looking for his flying squirrels. And I found many insights, but because I teach undergraduates to write, I also found a new patience in his work that may interest younger people and newcomers. Maser is engaged in an honest struggle to teach science and industry how to lock arms with spirit.
"Most humans do not see that Earth is not in danger—we are. We six billion are coming to an end of non-renewable resources, especially those of the forests, fossilized [coal] and still living. We think we can man-age all this. We are still suffering from the blindness of the Man Age and the Age of Oil.
"Maser helps us rethink our role in a kind, nonviolent argument with plenty of strong examples. We must stop acting like invaders from outer space on our home planet, he says. After all, he reminds us, the 'eco' in eco-omics and in eco-ology means 'house' in Greek. And the Earth, once we go too far, will run out of its nurturing love for us and inflict great pain....
"Maser writes that if each of us becomes as spiritually balanced as our vision of an eagle, we may still have time to evolve a world-wide culture that is sustainable."
"Global Imperative: Harmonizing Culture & Nature is an impassioned yet practical and thoughtful examination of the relationships between culture, nature's ability to maintain harmony, and humankind's spiritual development. Chris Maser shows how we have become a society on the brink of spiritual bankruptcy and offers persuasive evidence for choosing a different path and acting now to avert a devastating, ecological collapse. He convincingly presents the ethical, moral, and divine imperatives our generation has before it. And he offers specific suggestions for cultivating a personal inner landscape that resonates in harmony with nature, thereby giving us the blueprint for creating a peaceful, sustainable Earth."
Wisconsin Bookwatch, May 1993.
"Your book, Global Imperative, is one of the most thought-provoking and inspiring works that I have read in recent months. My warmest thanks to you for all you have accomplished in your writings, lectures, and workshops towards awakening others to the need for a complete change in our way of thinking about mankind's relation to and responsibility towards the earth. One must fervently hope that your Global Imperative will be read and understood by enough people to make a difference. The section on gardening in the chapter of your book 'Where Culture Meets Nature,' is surely one of the most beautiful descriptions I have ever read."
Margaret Barnetson, February 1994.
North Hills, California
"Firstly, Chris Maser has written a very valuable book about the natural world and its problems which are worse now (2016) than when the book was published in 1992.
"He's concerned with habitats and species and says (P33), '... the notion is that species continue to evolve until they at last occupy all available habitat niches in the biosphere, which keeps changing, so that species must continue adapting.'
"Some habitats offer more possibilities than others and he highlights the extraordinary richness of the world's tropical rain forests quoting biologist Louise Emmons, with regard to the Gabon African rainforest; 'You can stand anywhere and be surrounded by hundreds of organisms that are all 'doing something', going about their living in countless interactions—ants carrying leaves, birds dancing, bats singing, giant blue wasps wrestling with giant tarantulas, caterpillars pretending that they are bird droppings, and so on.'
"Then he shows how humans are destroying natural habitats at an accelerating rate, becoming the principal cause of extinctions and evolutionary leaps. Like he says (1992), 'Each year, an area 80% the size of the State of Oregon burns in the Brazilian Amazon alone', and this is a lot, considering that tropical rainforests are one of the world's oldest ecosystems, occupying only 7% of the Earth's surface but home to more than 50% of all the Earth's species.
"His point is that human beings approach nature in a manner formed by their past. For most of their history they were an insignificant part in its vastness, and actually threatened by it—hence the memes of 'carving out the new frontier', 'taming nature' etc. which are all wrong now that the tables have turned.
"Maser shows that intensive chemical based agriculture is seriously removing fertility from soil around the world as green cover is removed along with he natural cycle of dead organic matter returning to the earth (also covered in Peter Andrew's excellent book 'Beyond the Brink').
"He does show a growing awareness of the problem and engages in a very interesting argument (P186) contrasting Ethos with Law. Ethos is something that puts down deep roots into society and moulds it from the bottom up (in other words it IS society). In contrast Law is much more superficial concept that without Ethos it is easily circumvented, as for example with dead letter Environmental Laws routinely ignored by special interests. Like he says, 'This is not the doing of the scientists, foresters, rangers, and others at working levels the agencies.' It reflects decisions made by higher authorities in the executive branch of government i.e. They know they can get away with it because most of the population don't care.
"Maser could have suggested how to internalize (build an Ethos) of sustainability in the general population, but it's a difficult problem and this is still a great book. Five stars so far and I have decided to ignore the negatives."
Baraniecki Mark Stuart, August 2016.
(Return to Top of Page)