Friday, February 09, 2007

BEN Special Passages - E.O. Wilson's "The Creation"

Dear BEN Readers,

Today's BEN Special Passages comes from E.O. Wilson's new book, The Creation - An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. One of Alabama's greatest and most renown scientist, Wilson writes the book in the form of a letter to a Southern Baptist pastor urging science and religion to join forces and save creation.

I strongly recommend The Creation to BEN Readers. It is a great thought provoking book, that also reveals in detail how three University of Alabama teachers helped "grow" his passion for science and biology.

Best Wishes,

Pat Byington
BEN Publisher


Special Notice: If you would like to meet E.O. Wilson in person, he will be addressing the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium Conference, this spring. The conference is scheduled for April 20 & 21 at Samford University. Contact Virginia Brown at 205-726-4246 for additional details.

The following link includes a recent Washington Post story about the book.


Excerpts from E.O. Wilson's The Creation - An Appeal to Save Life on Earth

"There seems no better way to explain why so many smart people remain passive while the precious remnants of the natural world disappear. They are evidently unaware that ecological services provided scott-free by wild environments, by Eden, are approximately equal in dollar value to the gross world product. They choose to remain innocent of the historical principle that civilizations collapse when their environments are ruined. Most troubling of all, our leaders, including those of the great religions, have done little to protect the living world in the midst of its sharp decline. They have ignored the command of the Abrahamic God on the fourth day of the world's birth to "let the waters teem with countless living creatures, and let birds fly over the land across the vault of heaven." - The Creation, pg. 10

"Critics of environmentalism (whatever that overused term means - aren't we all environmentalists?) usually wave aside the small and unfamiliar, which they tend to classify into two categories, bugs and weeds. It is easy for them to overlook the fact that these creatures make up most of the organisms and the species on Earth. They forget, if they ever knew, how the voracious caterpillars of an obscure moth from the American tropics saved Australia's pastureland from the overgrowth of cactus; how a Madagascar "weed," the rosy periwinkle, provided the alkaloids that cure most cases of Hodgkin's disease and acute childhood leukemia; how another substance from an obscure Norwegian fungus made possible the organ transplant industry; how a chemical from the saliva of leeches yielded a solvent that prevents blood clots during and after surgery; and so on through the pharmacopoeia that has stretched from the herbal medicines of Stone Age shamans to the magic-bullet cures of present-day biomedical science." The Creation, pg. 31

"Freshwater ecosystems are pressed even more than forests and grasslands. Humans take up a quarter of the accessible water released to the atmosphere by evaporation and plant transpiration, and more than half the runoff from rivers and other natural channels. We are swiftly drawing down aquifers around the world, from America's Great Plains to China's Yellow River Basin and Saudi Arabia's irrigated desert. By 2025, some 40 percent of the world's population could be living in countries with chronic water scarcity. Of all Earth's water, marine included, fresh water makes up only 2.5 percent, and the greatest part of that is locked up in the planet's ice caps." - The Creation, pg. 77

Life on this planet can stand no more plundering. Quite apart from obedience to the universal moral imperative of saving the Creation, based upon religion and science alike, conserving biodiversity is the best economic deal humanity has ever had placed before it since the invention of agriculture. The time to act, my respected friend, is now. The science is sound, and improving. Those living today will either win the race against extinction or lose it, the latter for all time. They will earn either everlasting honor or everlasting contempt. - The Creation, pg. 99

"The basic ingredient for a love of learning is the same as romantic love, or love of country, or of God: passion for a particular subject. Knowledge accompanied by pleasurable emotion stays with us. It jumps to the surface and , when summoned, triggers other memory linkages to create metaphor, the cutting edge of creative thought. Rote learning, in contrast, fades quickly into a jumble of words, facts and anecdotes. The Holy Grail of liberal education is the formula by which passion can be systematically expanded for both science and humanities, hence for the best in culture." - The Creation, pg.127

BEN - January 26, 2007

1) Rivers Alliance and SELC Announce Water Agenda
2) Red Mountain Park Draft Master Plan Released
3) Governor Riley Makes Push For Alternative Fuels in Alabama
4) Alabama's Gulf Guardian Winners
5) BEN Notes: Birmingham Audubon Environmental Scholarships for Teachers, Sierra Club Film Festival, Salamander Festival, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Clean Up and Learn Day, Let Justice Roll - An Alabama Arise Conference, 5th Annual Hiking Trail Conference

1. Rivers Alliance and SELC Announce Water Agenda - This week, on the banks of the Alabama River, the Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center announced the release of the "Alabama Water Agenda - Guiding The Way To Healthy Waters" plan.

The plan called for the following actions:
* Increased agency coordination and enhancement
* Enhanced enforcement of state environmental laws and regulations
* Increased funding through the Alabama Legislature and fully use potential federal funding
* Develop a comprehensive statewide instream flow policy* Address stormwater runoff issues
* Strengthen state and local support for principles and methods of sustainable, "smart growth" development

To access and read the entire Alabama Water Agenda, visit

2. Red Mountain Park Draft Master Plan Released - Earlier this week, the Red Mountain Steering Committee submitted to the Red Mountain Greenway and Recreational Area Commission a draft master plan called "Red Mountain Park - A Vision for Birmingham's Great New Park."

Covering over 1100 acres (larger than Central Park in New York), the draft master plan lays out "Ten Guiding Principles to Shape the Park". Along with the completion of the draft plan, the Freshwater Land Trust transferred responsibility for the new park to the newly appointed and convened Red Mountain Greenway and Recreational Area Commission. Made possible by the largest donation in U.S. Steel history, the park is continuing to raise funds to purchase and maintain the park.For more information about this exciting project go to or

3. Governor Riley Makes Push For Alternative Fuels in Alabama - On January 25th, Governor Bob Riley announced the start of construction for the State Motor Pool's addition of a new 12,000 gallon E-85 Ethanol facility.

The new facility is part of a statewide plan to add pumps for E-85 ethanol fuel at six Alabama gas stations and B20 Biodiesel fuel at five stations along I-65.The state's actions follows the success of the city of Hoover's E-85 program, which has become the largest fleet of municipal law enforcement vehicles using E-85 in the United States. Since beginning the use of E-85, Hoover's municipal vehicles have driven over 3.7 million miles using 300,000 gallons of E-85 Ethanol.

Presently, the State Motor Pool currently has 132 vehicles with Flex Fuel engines capable of using either gasoline or E-85 Ethanol. All future state replacement vehicles will have E-85 Flex Fuel engines. To learn more about the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and their program to reduce our dependency on oil and improve air quality, visit

4. Alabama's Gulf Guardian Winners - An Alabama Business, an Individual and an Environmental Studies Center were awarded 2006 Gulf Guardian Awards.

Here were the winners:

First Place in the Business Category - Hand Arendall Conservation Awareness Program - Awarded for their coastal environmental education and leadership efforts - Complete Profile at

Third Place in the Youth Education Category - SEA ICE Environmental Studies Center - A creative environmental program involving teachers and students at 14 Mobile public high schools. Complete Profile at:

5. BEN Notes: Birmingham Audubon Environmental Scholarships for Teachers, Sierra Club Film Festival, Salamander Festival, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Clean Up and Learn Day, Let Justice Roll - An Alabama Arise Conference, 5th Annual Hiking Trail Conference

Birmingham Audubon Environmental Scholarships for Teachers - The Birmingham Audubon Society has scholarships available for teachers to attend 2 workshops - the Audubon Mountain Workshop held in Mentone, Alabama and the Maine Audubon Society's Workshop for Educators. To apply, visit or call Ann Sweeney at 205-879-7127.

Sierra Club Film Festival - The North Alabama Sierra Club is holding a Film Festival, in Huntsville at Flying Monkey Arts (in the old Lowe Mill at Seminole Dr. & 8th) , Saturday, January 27, 4pm, 7pm & 9pm. Check out the film lineup at or

Shades Creek Salamander Festival - Don't miss the annual Salamander Festival this Saturday, January 27th, 3:00 to 6:30 pm at the Shades Valley Community Church in Homewood.Wheeler

National Wildlife Refuge Clean Up and Learn Day - The Friends of Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Association is hosting six Clean Up and Learn Days throughout 2007. Their first event is scheduled for February 3rd, 8:00 am at the Beaverdam Peninsula. For additional details, contact Teresa Adams at 256-350-6639 or email Also visit

Let Justice Roll - An Alabama Arise Conference - If you care about environmental justice and advocating for the poor, check out this impressive upcoming Alabama Arise conference "Let Justice Roll." The conference is scheduled to be held on February 15th, 8:15 am - 3:00 pm at Birmingham Southern College. For registration info, visit or call 334-832-9060.

5th Annual Hiking Trail Conference - The Alabama Hiking Trail Society will be holding their 5th Annual Conference March 30 to April 1 at Bald Rock Lodge at Cheaha State Park. For conference registration info, visit -