Here I am on a pre-pandemic visit to Ireland, the homeland of some of my ancestors. It was a cool morning at Blarney Castle, where my wife and I stopped to kiss the Blarney Stone — a necessary pilgrimage for many writers. After all, it is said that the stone gives the gift of persuasive speech to anyone who kisses it.
I came to writing about the Anthropocene in a roundabout fashion. I have always supported environmentalism, and as an adult was active in several environmental groups. In my first professional career, spent in design and construction, I incorporated passive-solar and energy-efficiency features wherever possible.
Among many other activities during that period I, and others founded and directed the Ecological Design Program at the San Francisco Institute of Architecture. The Program offered courses in building design (which I taught), city planning, “biopherics,” “permaculture” and an “ecological design studio,” which I also ran, where students worked on and presented design projects.
In 2007, upon retiring from design work, I began to write the syndicated newspaper column Your Ecological House which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications around the country. As its name implied, the column, now in its 16th year, originally focused on projects homeowners could undertake to make their houses more environmentally friendly. I had been aware, of course, of the threat of global warming, but, like many environmentalists, I thought its effects would be felt later in this century. I hoped that if enough individuals focused making their home environments more environmentally friendly, we might change the future.
But in 2012, the year of the Great Arctic Ice Melt, I realized that the effects of climate change were upon us much sooner than expected, and the issue had to be addressed directly as the main driver of our global environmental crisis. I also soon discovered that some cutting-edge environmental thinkers had begun to call our geological era the Anthropocene, the period when humans were the primary agents of global environmental change — almost all of it detrimental the biosphere’s health.
Since then, much of my time and energy has been devoted to researching and writing about topics related to our environmental decline and possible solutions — survival and renewal in the Anthropocene — culminating with this blog as fluid a response to the many rapid developments in environmentalism, technology and politics.
With luck, the touch of the Blarney Stone on my lips will help give me the power to persuade readers to join me in taking environmental action. We’re all in this together — literally.
I could not pursue this work alone, or course. I am thankful for the strong, ongoing support of my wife, Pam. Also, my long-time editor, Rick Cooper has been essential to the success of my column, Your Ecological House. Finally, I wish to thank my many friends, supporters and teachers who have helped me is so many ways. Though there are too many of you to acknowledge individually here, but you know who you are. Thanks to everyone.