If you are among the more than four thousand drivers who will hit a deer today, or your kids’ soccer field is an unplayable mess of goose droppings, or a coyote has snatched your cat, or beavers have flooded your backyard, or wild turkeys have attacked your mailman, or bears have looted your bird feeders, you might be wondering why. As award-winning journalist and reporter Jim Sterba explains, “It is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals and birds in the eastern United States today than anywhere on the planet at any time in history.” The trouble, Sterba tells us, in "NATURE WARS: The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds" (Crown; November 13, 2012), is that modern Americans have become so estranged from nature that many of them don’t know how to cope with the wild bounty in their midst. So they battle one another over what, if anything, to do as conflicts between wildlife and people mount.
Four hundred years of colonial expansion culminated in an “era of extermination” in the late 1800s—a crescendo of forest and wildlife destruction so egregious that it spawned a backlash, the conservation movement, and an incredible turnaround. As trees took back farm land, conservationists nurtured numerous wild populations back to health. All the while, Americans were moving out of urban settings into new suburbs and beyond. By 2000, more than half the population lived neither in cities nor on farms but in a vast tree-filled in-between that demographers call sprawl. Today, as Sterba shows in "NATURE WARS", more people live in forested sprawl than anywhere else, and they coexist—not always blissfully—with growing populations of wild animals and birds. But unlike their farming forebears, modern Americans typically get their nature indirectly, from film and television shows in which wild creatures often act like humans worthy of protection even as their populations grow, causing billions in damage, degrading ecosystems, and polarizing communities.
"NATURE WARS" offers an eye-opening look at Americans’ interactions with nature and animals, illustrating how we’ve failed to be responsible stewards despite our best efforts and intentions. A deeply researched, eloquently written, counterintuitive, and often humorous look at relations between humans and nature—and the deepening chasm between the two—"NATURE WARS" will be the definitive book on how we created this unintended, sometimes disastrous, mess.
Jim Sterba will also participate in a public Deer Management Panel Discussion sponsored by Cornell Plantations and Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future to begin a dialogue about coordinated deer management within Tompkins County. The panel will feature a moderated panel discussion with experts, including Mr. Sterba, on Thursday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the Ithaca High School cafeteria; the panel discussion is free and open to the public.
About the Author
Jim Sterba has been a foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and national affairs reporter for more than four decades, first for the New York Times and then for the Wall Street Journal. He lives in New York City with his wife, the author Frances FitzGerald.
In 2011, Cornell's Gorge Safety Committee created an on-going plan to increase the awareness of potential gorge dangers along with measures to make them safer. These efforts look to have been successful. Read more in the October 8 Cornell Daily Sun article "Cornell Sees Decrease in Gorge-Related Deaths."
Described by TIME magazine as a “hero for the planet”, Dr. Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, will explore how the living world that supports us along with all other living organisms is at serious risk owing to a combination of human population growth, rising consumption rates, and the use of often inappropriate technology.
Dr. Raven’s lecture will address the fact that species are becoming extinct at an increasing rate because of habitat destruction, spread of invasive species, and global climate change. Steps that must be taken to reach global sustainability and social justice are drastic. But Dr. Raven will suggest strategies that, if employed, will save the maximum number of species while achieving a world in which conditions will allow their survival and the perpetuation of Earth’s living systems.
Having received the U.S. National Medal of Science in 2000, Dr. Raven champions worldwide research to preserve endangered plants. He also served as a member of President Bill Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Among the numerous awards Dr. Raven has received are the prestigious International Prize for Biology from Japan, the U.S. National Medal of Science, and the International Cosmos Prize. He has held Guggenheim and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships.
The author of numerous books and reports, both popular and scientific, Raven co-wrote Biology of Plants, an internationally best-selling textbook, now in its sixth edition. He also co-authored Environment, a leading textbook on the environment.
As part of Cornell Plantations Fall Lecture Series, this lecture is free and open to the public. Parking can be found in the parking garage located on Hoy Road on the campus of Cornell University.
Click here for the complete lecture line-up.
Cornell Plantations is seeking an exceptional individual to serve as the
Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director to lead Cornell University’s botanical
gardens, arboretum and natural areas, Upstate New York’s premier public
garden and one of Ithaca’s major cultural institutions. Read more here.
Bob Shaw grew up in Forest Home, on the outskirts of the Cornell campus. He and his brothers attended the nearby elementary school, where Bob remembers playing among the tall pines on Comstock Knoll, sledding down the hillside in the winter, and playing baseball in the school yard in the summer. Their parents worked at the university: R. William Shaw PhD ’34 was a professor and longtime chair of the astronomy department, and Charlotte Throop Shaw MA ’36 worked in the music department.
After the school closed in 1964, the building became Plantations’ headquarters. The old playground was dismantled, but the gravel yard remained for ten years before the Robison Herb Garden was built there. Today the old school is home to our education and visitor services staff, and is named for Plantations’ first executive director, Richard Lewis.
Bob and Anne first started making gifts to Plantations in memory of his mother, who enjoyed seeing our botanical collections and gardens develop. As their 50th reunions were approaching, they began thinking about how they might do more to create a permanent source of support for Plantations. “The Lewis building and the properties around it were an important part of my early years,” says Bob. “Anne and I want to be sure that Plantations has the funds needed to maintain and preserve them over the years ahead.”
Over the next four years, Bob and Anne will add new gifts to the charitable remainder unitrust they’ve already established at Cornell. They receive income from the trust for their lifetimes, and after their deaths the remainder will be divided to support the College of Engineering and to establish the “Robert and Anne Shaw Plantations Endowment.” We will use the payout from their endowment to maintain or improve the Lewis Building and the pathways, stairs, summer house, or other infrastructure on Comstock Knoll. The fund may also support other landscape improvements or enhance the knoll’s botanical collections.
Planned gifts can secure your future—and Plantations!
Gift planning can help you meet your financial goals while also providing Cornell Plantations with vital, long-term resources. From a simple bequest in your will to life-income agreements that can help secure your retirement, there are a wide range options.
For many donors, gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts provide the security of having a continued income stream for themselves or heirs, and significant tax savings. The charitable IRA rollover is also an option for 2013, and if you are 70-1/2 or older, you could move up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to Plantations without paying income taxes on the money.
For more information on how you can support Cornell Plantations with a planned gift, contact Beth Anderson.
English professor Thomas Hill will deliver Cornell Plantations’ 2013
William H. and Jane Torrence Harder Lecture Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Call
Auditorium, Kennedy Hall and will be followed by a garden party in Plantations botanical garden.
Hill has been known to take his students outside to lie down and stare at the trees, or to cart new students from Risley Hall to the Cornell Orchards to make sure they get there sometime during college.
“A tree is not simply a natural object that we chop down to harvest its wood or eat its nuts,” Hill said. “But in literature a tree is a larger symbol of the world, in both Christian and pre-Christian writing.”
Read more in the August 19 Cornell Chronicle article, "Plantations lecture focuses on trees in literature."
Click here for the 2013 Fall Lecture Series lineup.