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YG in Nepal, Winter 2007

I remember reading Rachel Carlson's Silent Spring in high school and sensed that there was something monumental about what she was saying, although I did not delve further into the subject then. Clearly, her message had some connection to the ills that afflicted society and nature but it seemed distant from the realities surrounding me then.

It would take several decades before the extent of the crisis would become clear to me. It finally did 
in 1987 while I was working in Nepal as part of an Israeli development cooperation mission and was staggered by what was being done to that majestic country under the banner of "development". Although Nepal was and still is rich in natural resources its people were and remain abysmally poor.

I saw before me economic activities directed by foreign businesses which led to deforestation, land degradation, water and air pollution and diminishment of the country's biodiversity.

Witnessing that destruction profoundly changed my view on society, in fact on life. 

A year later, when I started my doctoral work in geography, I decided to study the relationship between societies and their natural settings. I learned about global change and wrote my dissertation on the central role that society-nature relations play in authentic development. I began studying the sustainability literature. 


It has since become abundantly clear to me that the environmental crises on the horizon today are as least as dangerous to the future of life on this planet as the nuclear armament. I now realize that repairing the world is simultaneously a social, economic, cultural, spiritual pursuit, all having to do with the planet and the societies that inhabit it.   


© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved