I recently read T.C. Boyle's novel A Friend of the Earth (2000). To get in the mood I visited Orion Magazine to catch up on my environmental activist reading:
"Thoughts in the Presence of Fear" by Wendell Berry
"This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and citizens alike. It is hard for ordinary citizens to know what is actually happening in Washington in a time of such great trouble; for all we know, serious and difficult thought may be taking place there. But the talk that we are hearing from politicians, bureaucrats, and commentators has so far tended to reduce the complex problems now facing us to issues of unity, security, normality, and retaliation."
"The Idea of a Local Economy" by Wendell Berry
"LET US BEGIN BY ASSUMING what appears to be true: that the so-called "environmental crisis" is now pretty well established as a fact of our age. The problems of pollution, species extinction, loss of wilderness, loss of farmland, loss of topsoil may still be ignored or scoffed at, but they are not denied. Concern for these problems has acquired a certain standing, a measure of discussability, in the media and in some scientific, academic, and religious institutions."
"Big and Blue in the U.S.A." by James Howard Kunstler:
"Have any reporters noticed how we actually live here in America? With very few exceptions, our cities are hollowed out ruins. Our towns have committed ritualized suicide in thrall to the WalMart God. Most Americans live in suburban habitats that are isolating, disaggregated, and neurologically punishing, and from which every last human quality unrelated to shopping convenience and personal hygiene has been expunged. We live in places where virtually no activity or service can be accessed without driving a car, and the (usually solo) journey past horrifying vistas of on-ramps and off-ramps offers no chance of a social encounter along the way. Our suburban environments have by definition destroyed the transition between the urban habitat and the rural hinterlands. In other words, we can't walk out of town into the countryside anywhere. Our 'homes,' as we have taken to calling mere mass-produced vinyl boxes at the prompting of the realtors, exist in settings leached of meaningful public space or connection to civic amenity, with all activity focused inward to the canned entertainments piped into giant receivers -- where the children especially sprawl in masturbatory trances, fondling joysticks and keyboards, engorged on cheez doodles and taco chips."
This is my first taste of T.C. Boyle, but from looking at his other offerings I'm sure that it won't be the last.