115: Tony Hiss, Author & Land Conservation Advocate
Guest Name(s): Tony Hiss
Listen in as Matt interviews breakthrough Author Tony Hiss. Tony explains how we could save millions of species from extinction by conserving about 50% of the planet’s land and water by 2050.
Tony Hiss is the author of fifteen books, including the award-winning The Experience of Place. He was a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than thirty years, was a visiting scholar at New York University for twenty-five years, and has lectured around the world. His most recent book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to heal the Earth, is now available as a vintage paperback.
ACC #115 – Tony Hiss – A Climate Change with Matt Matern
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host. I’ve got author Tony Hiss on the program today. Tony’s written a book recently, he’s actually written lots of books, but the most recent one Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land To Heal the Earth.
It’s got some great reviews from lots of different places, one of which was the Wall Street Journal, which the Wall Street Journal generally is not the place that is saying nice things about environmental books, but it does say some, some great things about Tony’s book, as well as Bill McKibben, who is a seminal person in the environmental movement and lots of others like the National Geographic, and on and on.
So, you know, kudos to Tony for getting some great reviews on his book. I’ve started the book I got about 50 pages in and I really like it. It’s a great book. And so talks a lot about subjects that are really important, I think, really reframes the environmental movement in ways that are not commonly written about. Certainly I haven’t seen enough of the things that Tony is writing about out there in the popular press.
And I guess, the big thing that’s kind of the right on the title, the book is, is essentially protecting half the land to heal the earth. And Tony, really, you go into great detail about why that’s important. And without further ado, welcome to the show.
Oh, thanks so much, Matt. It’s a pleasure to be here with you and a privilege to be part of the company of wonderful thinkers and writers that you’ve been presenting. So thank you for all you’ve done.
Well, sure, it’s been my pleasure. One of the things that was striking to me, as I was reading was you were talking about the Mackenzie River in your book, which I recall from my youth reading, National Geographic, was just this amazing river up in northern Canada, and the splendor of the nature up in that part of Canada. And I think it stretches up to through Alaska and dumps out into the Arctic Ocean. What drew you to that area?
Well, the boreal forest, which the Mackenzie River flows through, is sort of the last, greatest, most intact, largest landscape left on the planet, bigger than Amazon, in some ways, bigger than the Russian boreal forest. It’s 3,700 miles long, it’s 1,000 miles north to south, and it is still very much the way it always was when the Native Americans got there 15-20,000 years ago.
We in this country have been brought up to think of the frontier is something that disappeared more than 100 years ago. But that’s partly because we’ve been thinking just in linear terms of east to west, when they said the Frontier has gone, I mean, we reached the Pacific. If we’d made a right turn and gone north, and would have seen that this incredible landscape is still very much with us, and still inhabited by Native Americans, who are suddenly becoming very important to protecting the place.
So there’s a lot going on there in the Mackenzie River, is the second largest North American River. Only the Mississippi is larger, but it’s hard even for a city kid from the US like me to wrap my mind around it because it flows the wrong way. That is it flows north up into the Arctic, as you are saying, and yet you can be on a boat on it as I was, for hour after hour after hour, and counter nothing that has anything to do with human habitation – astonishing.
That is pretty wild. And I guess another thing that struck me as I was reading the book was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada for restorative justice. And, you know, we just I don’t believe had anything like that here in the US for Native American populations. And I feel like probably something like that would be a great idea here. And it’s also kind of fascinating that as an American, I don’t see this written about and I’m trying to read things about the environmental movement all the time.
So it’s also kind of surprising to me that it’s not something that’s talked about enough. And also, I think what you tie in there in the book is how having, you know, a lot of buy in from our Native American population is part of the solution to conserving half of the planet, and maybe you could talk to us about that and, and how you came to, to look at this as a as a solution.
Well, the Canadians, meaning the European Canadians, then, just as we were pretty awful to their Native American inhabitants. First Nations, they call them up there. But the one thing they didn’t do, which we did do, was kick them off the land. So they’re still very much in place. And with all their understanding of those landscapes, and how they, how they work. Now the Canadian government is turning to them and saying, “we want you really to set up something like a second national park system, which which you will administer. You will be the Moccasins and Mukluks on the ground, the Rangers.” And that’s almost going to double the size of protected land in Canada.
And it means that Canada can meet its target of trying to protect 30% of that enormous country by the year 2030. So suddenly, they’re being turned to and it turns out that all over the world the vast majority of the lands that are still large and largely intact, have this Native America, have these native born populations. So they’re going to be key to trying to protect enough of the place to keep all the species alive.
Well, I saw in the book that you’re talking about protecting 50% of the planet by 2050. And that’s a very bold goal. And can you tell us more about maybe what we’re doing in the US or other places around the world to reach that goal? And is it likely that it’s actually going to happen?
The answer to your final question is yes, it is likely, because it’s so necessary. We’ve only just begun to realize that there is this calamitous loss facing us, of life on the planet. Something like a million species of plants and animals are at risk of going extinct soon. And that’s incredibly important, not just because we have an innate liking for animals, but because they represent in their myriad numbers, patterns of life on which we as humans defend, for our continued existence.
We wouldn’t have enough food to eat, we wouldn’t have enough water, clean water to drink, we wouldn’t even have enough air to breathe. If it weren’t for all these other life forms around us would just sort of catching up to the immensity of that, at the same time. They’re turning out to be of great importance to the environmental climate goals that we’ve been able to see more clearly for the last few generations. And namely, that they hold onto sequester as the technical word, an awful lot of carbon that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere and add to global warming.
And just as human beings, we’re realizing that exposure to these landscapes does so much for our own physical and mental health, the Japanese concept of forest bathing, which is catching on that just by reveling in a few hours in the woods, our spirits are restoring our energy is restored. So it’s opening up the environmental picture in an interesting and very urgent and necessary way.
Well, certainly, it parallels the a lot of talk about the Earth having rights and the rights of nature. And I thought a beautiful quote that Justice Thomas Berger had in his report, seminal report in 1974, was that the Native Americans never sought to alter their environment, but rather live in harmony with it. Certainly, we could learn a lot from that, and emulate that going forward.
You bet. It’s finally we’re sort of beginning to find a way of rapprochement between scientific understanding of the atmosphere and the climate. And this traditional knowledge that the Native Americans in the First Nations have absorbed and carried forward for so many, many generations, were natural partners. And the whole 5550 movement is in some ways, a more Western expression of their understanding and knowledge that stretches so far back, as we can get into as we continue with this conversation.
Well, yes, when we when we get back from the break, we can talk about the boreal forest, which stretches from Minnesota up through Canada, and all the way to the Arctic and and how that’s the Fort Knox of carbon – twice as much carbon per acre as the Amazon or tropical forest, and why that’s so important, and is it a risk and what can we do to help save it?
So you’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, we’ve got Tony Hiss, the author of a great book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land To Heal the Earth. We’ll be right back in just one minute.
You’re listening to A Climate Change this is Matt Matern, your host. I’ve got Tony Hiss on the program, author of Rescuing the Planet. And Tony, why 50%? What’s the science behind that that goal of protecting 50% of the planet?
Sciences is and then something that’s been developed both by sort of field biologists exposed to various lives like plants and animals, and also some kind of predictive biology that’s now possible.
Most species that turns out, need something like half of their original habitat, to stay intact for them to be able to continue. Some more sensitive species native somewhat more, some less less. But as a rule of thumb, is about 50%. And that’s still available around the planet, so it’s not like it’s out of reach.
Also, we can now look ahead and say that we’ve done something, protected something like 15% of the planet in the last 150 years. Yellowstone National Park, the first piece of protected land, first national park – 1872. It’s often called the Great American invention, national parks, of course, it leaves out jazz, but it’s still one of the great American inventions.
But if it took us 150 years to get from zero to 15. And now there’s this global goal of trying to get from 15 to 30 in a decade. That’s pretty daunting. But not impossible, because that was the thing that made this book, so exciting to work on all over the continent. As I roamed around, I ran into so many people who are working on this so effectively, often without any knowledge of each other, just springing into action, because they feel the call to do something to avert this calamity, that I was incredibly encouraged.
Yeah, I feel the same way as they feel like they’re just 1,000s tens of 1,000s, maybe millions of people that are working on environmental issues, and that there is a lot of energy, are we at the tipping point where it becomes kind of an inevitable that we’re going to do the right things? It certainly seems like we’re getting closer to it. I know, just like a data point, I got an electrical car, like in 2015. There were practically none on the road. And now there’s there tons of them. So it seems as though we’re getting closer to it. What your sense of that?
Yeah. So there’s a lot of positive signs. I think it was Winston Churchill was supposed to have said about Americans – “They always do the right thing after trying everything else.” Maybe that applies to all of us on the planet. So many remarkable people that I ran into, suddenly sort of got the call. There’s one guy in the panhandle of Florida, MC Davis, who like to think of himself as a dirt road panhandled guy, it actually made it, become a multimillionaire commodities broker, but started out making his first bucks playing professional poker years before.
Never gave the gave the environment a thought until one day he was caught in a traffic jam, saw a billboard on the side of the road and a local high school with said, “Black Bear seminar,” thought anything is better than this. Swerved off, went into a nearly empty auditorium, high school auditorium, said there were a couple of drunks in one corner, some Canadian lost tourists hoping for some doughnuts, and up on the stage two remarkable women were talking about the plight of the Florida black bears, local species subspecies of black bear, and how they were endangered because their habitat. This famous longleaf pine forests of the southeast, were being completely wiped out. Something that started right after the Civil War. After the plantations went bust, they started chopping down the forest. It’s the reason why Scarlett O’Hara never went hungry again.
And he got, the bug bit. And the next day he gave these two women some money that would carry them forward for two years. And no one had ever done that before. They were a little suspicious and they said you must want something from us. And he said yes, “I want a list of all the 100 most important environmental books,” I’m way behind.
So the next year reading them, then he started to buy these played out peanut farms 51,000 acres to replant longleaf pine, Spent half a million dollars a year, replanting longleaf pine. By the time I encountered MC it was 13 years later, The place still looked pretty scruffy, I thought. And he said, “Well, it’s a 300 year project come back in 287 years.”
He’s passed on now, but he’s left enough money to endow this amazing project. So here’s someone who out of nowhere, just became not only interested but incredibly affected.
That’s a wonderful story. And I was thinking of the timeline that he mentioned the 300 year timeline and and you’ve written about the Inuit, the caribou people, which are up in Canada, and they believe that they’re married to the land and and they look at things on a 400 year time horizon.
So maybe that would be a great benefit for our society is to start looking at things on that kind of 400 year time horizon. How is this going to impact our planet in 400 years, and make decisions based upon that?
There’s actually a new UN report that says the decisions we make in this decade will affect the planet for thousands of years to come. The wonderful Iroquois great law of peace, supposedly, written down in around 1450, gave us the idea of seven generations – thinking seven generations ahead. But here we’re being called on to think hundreds of generations ahead. That’s pretty novel. And yet, we I think that capacity is inherent in us. It’s just we haven’t seen the need to use it.
One of the heroes of this book is a man named Benton Mackay, who was remembered as the father of the Appalachian Trail. Over 100 years ago, in the summer of the year 1900, he graduated from college and he and a friend celebrated by bushwhacking their way up one of the Green Mountains of Vermont, a part of the Appalachian chain of mountains.
And at the top, they shimmied up the tallest trees they could find no trails in those days, swaying there, Mackay, 22 years old at this sudden feeling that he was, which he later called a planetary feeling, that he was part of a single landscape that stretched along the length of the peaks of the Appalachians from Maine all the way down to Georgia, something like 2,200 miles.
And when he sat down and wrote up this idea, actually it was more than 20 years later. Suddenly, everyone flocked to the idea of building a trail along the peaks of the Appalachians. That’s what became the Appalachian Trail. It took only 12 years for it to come into being.
And amazingly, it was all done by people volunteering their time, mostly on weekends and vacations. Said to be the largest public works project in human history, entirely accomplished by volunteers. So the spirit is there.
I think that that’s right, that it’s really just a matter of inviting people out to play the game and be a part of something. I think I can speak from personal experience that, you know, just sitting on the sidelines myself just waiting to contribute something. And then when asked to say jump in, then feeling okay, great, finally have something to do. And here’s an opportunity to help out. So I think lots of people kind of fall into that category.
It was Mackay is supposed to have said, optimism is oxygen. So…
Yeah, I like that. So tell us a little bit about the things that, you know, are happening in the US, maybe from a public policy front, that you think are working or not working, that we should be aware of, to get us to this goal of protecting half the land.
Well, it’s this is a subject that sort of lurked at the edges of our attention for a long time, but it suddenly burst into, onto center stage. Last December 188 Nations meeting in Montreal, adopted this goal of getting to 30% protection by the year 2030. The Biden administration, on its own part had already named that as a US goal. And so far two US states, California and New York, have proclaimed these to be statewide goals. So there’s a lot of interest bubbling up there.
Yes, it’s going to take a turn around in public policy. And we’re finding that our good intentions at the moment are sort of bumping up against each other. You’ve talked about lots more electric cars on the road now, which is in some ways, wonderful because it means that much less fossil fuel is being used.
But of course, as we know, the batteries for electric cars need all kinds of rare earths, which means we’re still chopping into the earth to dig things out. It’s just a different set of different things to dig out and process. And we need to start thinking in terms of what I call “all species design,” which I’d be happy to describe a little more detail.
Well, we’re close to our break right now. So why don’t we take a break and then after that we can talk about all species design, you’re listening to A Climate Change is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got Tony Hiss, author of Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land To Heal the Earth. We’ll be right back in just one minute.
You’re listening to A Climate Change, this is Matt Matern, and I’ve got Tony Hiss on the program. Tony, we’re talking about “all species design” before the break. Why don’t you pick it up there and tell us about what that means.
A generation ago, we came up with the idea of so called universal design. A wonderful architect who was paralyzed from the legs down, had to be carried to classes to get through school, said the buildings we have are inadequate – we need to come up with a way of building things so that people of all levels of ability can use them with equal purpose.
And that was the beginning of the Americans with Disability Act. We’re all familiar with it in terms of ramps leading up to the entrances of buildings, but it’s a far more comprehensive idea than that means the insides have to be redesigned to so that people can confined to chairs have things like electric sockets, and wheelchair height, rather than having to lean down all kinds of things and playgrounds that can accommodate kids of all abilities – wonderful advance.
The challenge now is, we’re just beginning to reach out, in terms of our understanding of the biosphere, is this envelope that contains all of life anywhere, as far as we know. And one of the things that’s most surprising that we’re coming into our coming to our attention is that we aren’t just surrounded by millions and millions of other species, but that so many of these species have their own awarenesses.
We now know that elephants are empathetic and caring. We know that octopuses can recognize human faces. We know that spiders can dream. Last summer, a distinguished German biologist and zoologist, just wrote a book about these in which he said, bees have a brain no bigger than a poppy seed, and yet they have rich inner lives. So we’re surrounded by a sea of awarenesses.
One of the implications of this is that there really is no such thing as vacant land, or an empty lot. It may not have human uses, but it’s got a lot of life in there. So if we need to add human uses to what we would think of as vacant land, how can we do that in a way that doesn’t just displace and dislodge the inhabitants that are already there? How can we think about the needs of all species simultaneously?
We talked a minute ago about mining. Well, there are some interesting pointers. A generation ago, the only way to get at someone’s appendix was to slice them open, and pull and leave a large gash. Now we have laparoscopic surgery. We can make three tiny holes, put a camera through a miniature camera through one of them, put miniature surgical instruments through the other two, and accomplish the same operation with minimal invasion. Can we invent that way of extracting minerals from the soil?
I found some some company online, I don’t know how reliable they are, that claims it’s in the business of inventing and perfecting no-impact, low-impact mining. So all those kinds of things that we’ve never had to think so carefully about suddenly are becoming part of the equation. So that our wonderful 21st century goals don’t have to rely on leftover 19th century, overly intensive ways of doing things.
Yeah, basically, we didn’t price in the cost of destroying the environment in a 19th century economics model, because the environment was seemingly could take almost endless amounts of our, you know, damage to it. And certainly probably did for thousands of years, because we didn’t really cause as much damage to it. But then, of course, in the 19th and 20th century, the ability for humans to destroy the environment kind of increased exponentially, and has been increasing exponentially ever since.
And it seemed, you know, that’s kind of the scary part is that as much as we’ve been trying to conserve energy and make it cleaner and greener, that are the energy needs of the human population just continue to grow so so much that it hasn’t made as much of an impact as we would like. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, you’re right there. In the first place, so many more of us than there ever were. And we’re so much better at gouging out things and turning them into something else. And we have to be a lot more careful. That was the other thing that I found so interesting. This biosphere that, this envelope of life is in many ways, as almost as ancient as the planet itself, which is astonishing.
Only a few 100 million years younger. It’s created such an abundance of life, and it’s been so resilient for such a enormous length of time, and it seems so endless because look and around us, it does stretch from side to side, completely around the surface of the planet. And yet, the other aspect of it, and then this is something that is only just become to come into focus, although a Russian biogeochemist tried to warn us 100 years ago, Vladimir Vernadsky. It has this third dimension, almost this almost lack of third dimension, namely, it’s very thin, from top to bottom.
Most of the species live within a range that at the top of which is Mount Everest, the top of Mount Everest, and the bottom of which is the Mariana Trench, the deepest place in the Pacific Ocean. That’s only a distance of about 12 and a half miles. Stretched out flat on Earth, as someone pointed out, you could easily drive across in less than 20 minutes. So there’s this, in addition to the robustness and the ancientness and the magnificence of the biosphere, there’s this built in vulnerability, this Achilles heel. And we’ve never sort of factor that into thinking. And now we have to, and it’s helpful, because it makes us realize it can’t just do anything, you have to think about it first.
In terms of rescuing the planet, what do you think are some of the most important ways that we can can do that and how can everybody be involved in that process?
Well, it depends on what scale you you’re interested in being involved in. The largest scale projects like the Appalachian Trail, 2,200 miles long, and Mackay wanted to protect not just the Ridgeline, but the land around the mountains that he called the realm. There’s a parallel project in the West, called Yellowstone to Yukon.
A Canadian lawyer and activist named Harvey Locke in the 1990s had a similar experience camping out in the woods in Canada that he was in a single place that stretched north, all the way from Yellowstone National Park to the top of the Yukon. This Yellowstone to Yukon initiative has since then protected something like 20% of that enormous landscape and others have made it even more enormous by showing that it also leads south down into Mexico or the Sierra Madre mountains there.
So one thing to do is get involved in climate actions, programs of that size, but much closer to home, people who live in suburban areas and have a little bit of lawn, have been called to action by a wonderful biologist and writer named Doug Tallamy, who has defended what he calls nearby national parks, homegrown national parks.
Meaning if you take just a tiny piece of your lawn, and reconverted to native plants that will allow butterflies and these, the kinds of plants they’re looking for, the blooms they need, and that will continue that whole process of pollination just on your tiny piece of lawn. And that guy I’m in touch with in New York State in Westchester County north of the city has the same idea of people could take better care if they have that of woods at the back of their property.
A lot of these woods are overgrown with vines and need some restoration. That’s not so much a grassroots project as a tree roots project, but it’s catching on. So that all kinds of things or if you live in the city, not much greenery around, you could get involved in turning lights upside down streetlights release an awful lot of light into the air, which both confuses birds and insects and makes it that much harder for them to survive.
For our purposes, all we need to do is light reaching downwards from streetlights onto the ground. So, there’s almost an endless number of ways of getting involved and helping, and making a difference. And that’s good because I think it’s going to need all of us to get this done in the time available.
Well I know that there are some organizations here in LA that are planting and trying to get urban areas greener and and I know there are organizations probably all over the country that are doing the same thing. And that’s a critical need for, for urban areas, because many of them suffer from being heat islands. And so all these rather modest actions can make a difference.
So certainly urge everybody to go out there and get involved in your local community, there are things that we can all do to kind of push the needle. So we’re going to take a break right now. We’re talking to author Tony Hiss of Rescuing the Planet. We’ll be right back.
You’re listening to A Climate Change. This is Matt Matern, your host, and I’ve got author Tony Hiss on the program. Tony wrote a book, Rescuing the Planet. And Tony, tell us a bit about what led you to writing this book, you’ve written a lot of other books. What was the impetus to write it?
I think, I began to realize that there was something stupendous going on at the edge of our attention. There was a Canadian wolf that caught my eye, named pluie, French for “rain,” because she was caught in a blinding rainstorm and banded. And this was just at the time, when our ability to attach tracking instruments to animals had gotten lightweight enough so that they weren’t a burden, and also at a point where we could begin to track these signals with satellites.
So, a whole new world of what was actually happening to animals, was coming into focus, almost as stupendous and anticipated, as back when the microscope was first invented back in the 1700s. And suddenly tiny, invisible things became real, and could be seen swimming around. But at the same time, we’re beginning to see how much we were wiping out these animals that we were just beginning to get to know.
It’s happening now on the floor of the sea. We’re finding incredible ecosystems in life or life systems and life forms down at the bottom of the ocean, just when we’re beginning to think about scooping up nodules of metal on the bottom of the ocean. So it’s almost like, we didn’t invent headlights on a car, we had been in headlights on a car in order not to hit creatures crossing the road, not in order to be able to swerve, and squish them better.
So we’ve got to use this wonderful ability to acknowledge the amazingness of the world – to our benefit, and its benefit to keep us all going. So I tried to write this book, from that point of view – to introduce this extraordinary opportunity, this extraordinary calamity, the extraordinary remedy. And and some of the people who are working on it so magnificently.
As I said earlier, many of which totally independent of, and hadn’t having no knowledge of the what the other ones are doing. But it’s all coming together in a way that’s making what needs to be done possible.
Well, that’s, that’s a great story. I appreciate you sharing that with us. And tell us a little bit about your earlier work and what led you to be a writer, and particularly to focus on the environmental movement in your early career.
Well, I think I’ve always been attracted by things at the edges of our attention. One of the early earlier books I wrote was called the experience of place, and it was about how, although it’s just beyond our usual, paying attention to it. We in fact, are very closely affected by the places around us – the buildings, countryside, cities.
We knew an awful lot about how to make them functional, but we weren’t thinking about how they made us feel. And this was something we could actually begin to use more effectively. So I’ve tried to write that kind of book, sort of exploring the edges of things. Again, and again.
Where are we now in terms of setting aside land that wouldn’t, that isn’t going to be developed. The goal in the US is 30%. How far are we from reaching that goal?
Well, we’ve got quite a ways to go yet. I think we’re getting closer to 20% in some areas. And of course, some areas will never reach 30, let alone 50. But, but we’re making good progress. This meeting that which became a global goal last December, December 2022, was supposed to have taken place in 2020. But COVID made that impossible.
So it’s even more of a fraught deadline, because now this decade long effort has only seven years to run, or at least eight if you cheat and say we’re going to December 31, 2030 Instead of just January 1. But as the need gets more intense, more and more people seem to be springing up with more and more programs.
For instance, I was in western New York State, south of Buffalo just a couple of weeks ago. These are the eight counties of New York State that backup into onto Lake Erie. Turns out they have an extraordinary biodiverse forest that one has ever really taken into focus and the local group up there, mid-size local group, existed for 30 years, protected maybe eight or ten thousand acres of land.
Suddenly they’ve got a scheme to protect a network of forests up there that would cover 1,100,000 acres. So suddenly, people are really doing things that seem to come out of nowhere, but in fact, have come out of the need, and be able to recognize what the possibilities are.
That’s an incredible, positive development, and certainly we can use more of that. One of the things you talk about is kind of thinking about setting aside land and different types of chunks like a Yellowstone sized chunk or a state of California sized chunk. And what are your thoughts in terms of how we can set aside chunks of land that are similar in size Yellowstone, like chunks of land, here in the States?
Well, there seem to be sort of three R’s of this whole 50% movement. Retain the wild areas that still exist. Reconnect those that have been severed from each other, and then restore places that were once while there. The reconnecting is very important, because what now that we do know what animals are up to, we realized that even parks huge parks that were set aside as a way of protecting animals don’t quite work because the animals haven’t been told where the edges are – and they leave.
And if and if we’ve developed around the edges, they can’t come back in. So they need pathways between one big chunk of the next, which creates an even larger pattern. So and that’s something now someone I’ve been in touch with just has a plan to connect, say, Yellowstone up to Glacier National Park – an 18 million acre project, if the corridors can be protected between these two wonderful national parks.
People as we’ve been saying, thinking at all scales, whether it’s the view out their window, or it’s this sort of planetary feeling that Benton Mackay talked about, where they feel connected to an extraordinarily large landscape. And we’re lucky here in North America, because we have the kind of geography that lends itself to that kind of thinking.
We’ve got this whole mountain chain down the east coast, the Appalachians, this whole mountain chain in the West, the Rockies, and across the top this extraordinary, intact boreal forest. And then down at the bottom, a biological hotspot that’s just been delineated along the southeast in the Gulf Coast. So it helps us keep what’s needed in mind in a nice way.
But I loved one of the stories you told in the book about a Native American guy who lived off the coast of Canada and he went to one of the islands that was a native land. And he kind of started to restore it and then was joined in that effort by lots of other Native Americans. And then they started to kind of restore those areas and, and acted as guardians of the area. Do you see that, you know, taking root here in the US as well?
I do. This guy had a vision that he should return to a place south of where he was that had been the ancestral home of his people. Bought himself a canoe, I think a sort of Sears Roebuck kind of canoe, didn’t know how to canoe. Taught himself how to canoe. Made the journey down there and found the remains of this village and began to tidy up.
These are the Indians who were famous for constructing what we’d call totem poles – signature poles that they put at the edges of their houses, because people would approach it by water, which would tell you who lived there. And that ignited a whole group of people to come and do what he was doing.
And since then, they’ve protected not only the land around there, with the help of the Canadian government, but the water next to it. And it’s also become a source of ecotourism income for these First Nations up in British Columbia area.
We’re gonna have to close out this episode, but please, everybody go out and buy a copy of Tony’s book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land To Heal the Earth, and follow him on social media as well as follow our show, A Climate Change – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok. And you can also listen to old episodes on our website, aclimatechange.com. Episodes are also on Apple Music and Spotify. You can leave us a review there. Also send questions you’d like to have us ask the guest.
And most importantly, go out and help environmental organizations donate your time and talent, dollars, yen, whatever. Do it today. Talk to others about these issues, and be the change you want to see in the world.
Tune in next week and “namaste” to everybody.
Thank you, Tony so much for being on the program and we’ll have to keep in touch.
I look forward to it. Thank you so much for having me.
(Note: this is an automatic transcription and may have errors in formatting and grammar.)
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