The least we can do,
if morality and ethics are still in our fiber, is to plan a thousand
years of amenities for our progeny while they mind our nuclear
So a thousand good years, and an
aim. Mere survival is not enough in the world we seek. Our institutions
need to accommodate an optimistic vision of man's future, to
believe that if the golden rule is all right in religions, it
should not be avoided in life.
A thousand year plan for oil, with
particular respect for the immediate foreground in Alaska, would
recognize the contribution of those who discovered the North
Slope oil resource, appropriately cover the costs they cannot
cover, reward them, pay the state for storage underground, then
record the oil reserve as part of the inventory to be budgeted
to last a thousand years. The Plan would contemplate that oil
may one day serve a more important purpose than fueling automobiles
and supersonic transports. Precipitate exploitation would be
discouraged and extravagant use would be prohibited. Study of
potential dangers of removing and transporting the oil in and
across fragile ecosystems would be exhaustive and not an exercise
in salvage ecology. The costs of perfecting spill-proof transportation
would be met and development would await the meeting, the oil
remaining safely stored underground until then, in situ.
Whatever the costs were would be passed on to the user, who has
always paid the costs anyway although he has not always known
it. I f this materially raises the price, that increase in itself
would make economically feasible the development of more efficient
oil using devices. We would pollute far less because pollution
would be too wasteful and too expensive. This would be a residual
advantage and a welcome one, since the Plan would not expect
oil to be available for a millennium, but also would expect the
air to remain breathable for the duration.
Applied to people, the Plan would celebrate
and hold hard to the diversity that makes them strong, beautiful
Applied to land use it would obliterate
In forestry, it would eradicate monoculture.
In agriculture, it would stop decimating organic diversity three
in the making.
It would recognize that if population
continues to grow at the present rate, mankind will outweigh
the earth and there are better things to do with both.
Applied to pace, the Plan would encourage
people to slow down and live, to take time to look for the real
show, heeding Robinson Jeffers:
how noble the world is.
The lonely-flowing waters, the secret keeping stones,
The flowing sky.
No one ought to have too little courage to try,
for what is the alternative? Begun soon, the Thousand -Year Plan
should have rewards along the way. It should keep alive an orchestration
of living things more beautiful than we now know, and perhaps
even more beautiful than anyone remembers.
us, that is, except those who have known what Kenneth Brower
and his friends remember in what this book has to say. There
is a bit of requiem in it already, and we can be grateful that
it is a beautiful requiem. We are more grateful that the world
still has most of this ultimate wilderness still living, and
there lies within man the power to let it stay that way.
March 25, 1971