The Ecological Footprint
2000 Kistler Prize Acceptance Speech
The Foundation for the Future's annual Kistler Prize recognizes original contributions to the understanding of the connection between the human genome and human society, especially those contributions stemming from research conducted with courage and conviction despite opposition from peers or the public.
"The great dilemma of ethical reasoning stems from this conflict—between short-term values and values based on a vision of a more distant, transgenerational future. To select values of the near future, of one’s own tribe or country or family, is relatively easy. To select values for the distant future of the whole planet is also relatively easy. But to combine the two visions with passion, precision, solid knowledge, and reason is terribly difficult. My own perception of how best to expand the space/time capsule of cultures, individual awareness, and ordinary discourse and thinking—widely shared, I know, by many at this symposium—is by deepening knowledge of two basic natures. First, human nature. Second, the nature of the free-living world of animals, plants, and microbes that exists apart from humanity, that gave rise to the human species, that creates an environment to which we are exquisitely adapted in body and spirit, and on which our existence ultimately depends. It is the linkage between the two natures, between biological wellsprings of the human culture and society on the one hand, and the environment in which we exist that presents the most vital intellectual challenge immediately before us."
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