Thinking naturally: Author's goal is Earth's preservation

Thinking naturally: Author's goal is Earth's preservation


Chris Maser's connection to the natural world is long and deep.

As a young boy, his mother tethered him to the clothesline of their southwest Corvallis home to keep him from wandering off into the woods. In later years, he spent many hours playing in a neighborhood ditch with his best friend.

"It was a marvelous place," he said. "The ditch was filled with life. That's where I began to understand relationships in nature."

But whether you grew up playing in a forest or a concrete jungle, Maser wants you to care about the natural world and work to preserve it for future generations. In some form, that is the message of most his books, which number 31 and counting.

His latest, "Social-Environmental Planning: The Design Interface Between Everyforest and Everycity," recently was published by CRC Press. It is the first book in a series on social/environmental topics. The next, about sustainable community development, will be out in January. Maser believes that the world could be better if people would take responsibility for their actions - and how those actions impact others.

Preserving the Earth for future generations will require a radical shift. People are afraid of change, he said, because they are comfortable with what they know - even if the alternative is actually much better.

Maser hopes the series he's currently working on will help people understand what to do when they're forced to change how they live.

One of the biggest challenges to sustainability is population, Maser said. Population control can only be achieved by honoring women and creating equality.

"Equality starts at home," he said. "I see very little equality in this country. We give it lip service."

"Earth in Our Care," which was published last summer, focuses on the conflict between money and nature.

"In the money chase, we're making war on nature," he said. "Why? Because we're terrified of not having enough."

In "Trees, Truffles and Beasts," published in 2008 by Rutgers University Press, Maser and two other authors compared a eucalyptus forest in Australia with a conifer forest in the United States, focusing on the relationship of the forest and the soil and the myriad parts of the ecosystem affected by it.

If that relationship isn't protected, Maser said, the forests will disappear. If the forests disappear, so does the water.

"We're doing this to ourselves," he said. "We're the authors of our own demise."

Not just our own.

"Every decision we make has a trade-off," he said. "What we have got to understand is our decisions become the children's consequences and we don't give them a voice. They have to live with the consequences."

But Maser believes firmly that it can be different.

For his 2004 book, "The Perpetual Consequences of Fear and Violence: Rethinking the Future," Maser asked fourth-graders at Harding Elementary School what they wanted the world to be like when they grew up. Answers included peace, clean air and clean water.

"There's nothing the kids want that we can't do," Maser said. "What they have identified are basic human values."

Maser has visited numerous foreign countries, but it was a trip to Mount St. Helens in 1961 that left an impression that made him want to share his thoughts with the world. He hiked into the backcountry, only to find that an area of old-growth he loved had been logged. It was disheartening, but made him realize he needed to do what he could to prevent others from experiencing the same sense of loss.

His work is a way of "just saying ‘thank you,' by leaving the world a little better place," he said. "By helping people understand there are other choices.

"I will live and die, writing," he continued. "Sharing ideas and never know if I'm right. I just do the best I can.

"That's the joy of living."


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