Cumberland Times-News

February 8, 2014

‘Guide’ helps us to relate to our planet

Bob Doyle, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— Some regard humanity as the most intelligent species and therefore the masters of the world.

We are entitled to harvest the Earth’s resources to meet our wants or desires. A larger number see humans as stewards of the Earth. We are to use the Earth resources carefully, particularly with regards to the needs of future generations.

A recent book on the Earth and humanity is “Earth: A Tenant’s Guide,” written by Frank H.T. Rhodes, a President Emeritus of Cornell. Rhodes is a geologist whose previous books include “The Evolution of Life.” “The Language of the Earth” and “The Creation of the Future: The Role of the American University.”

“Earth: A Tenant’s Guide” has ISBN of 978-0-8014-78239-9 (paperback, 377 pages and about $24).

Rhodes quotes a native American proverb, “We don’t inherit the Earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children.” This idea gives an insight into the different perspective that “Tenant’s Guide” is based on.

“Tenant’s Guide” is divided into three segments: 1. The Present Earth, 2. Earth in Past, 3. Future Earth – the Sustainable Planet. Each segment is largely self contained and can be read on its own.

Dr. Rhodes opens “The Present Earth” with series of chapters on How Can One View the Earth: The Third Planet, Our Home Planet, The Rocky Planet, the Blue Planet, The Veiled Planet, The Hazardous Planet, The Ancient Planet, the Bountiful Planet and The Finite Planet.

The “Earth in Past” includes The Uninhabitable Planet, The Living Planet (History of Life’s Development), The Warming Planet (Inconstancy of Climate), The Polluted Planet and The Crowded Planet.

“Future Earth: Sustainable Planet” includes the chapters: The Sustainable Planet, Water as Sustenance, Air as Sustenance, Soil as Sustenance, Food as Sustenance, Energy as Sustenance (Reviews fossil fuels and renewable energies), Materials as Sustenance, Prospects for Sustenance, and Policies for Sustenance.

“Earth: A Tenant’s Guide” gives an objective view of the key aspects of Earth and the impact of humanity. It’s illustrations are drawn from a number of recent key texts in geology, paleontology and biology.

“Tenant’s Guide” avoids taking one sided positions (environmental doomsday or ignoring the consequences of human activities). The issues discussed show how the Earth’s diverse systems interact, not always smoothly.

The Earth is our only home; moving elsewhere (like Mars) is not an option.

This columnist will be using “Earth: A Tenant’s Guide” as a text in a junior interdisciplinary course at Frostburg State.

SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: The evening moon will appear near the bright planet Jupiter tomorrow evening . On Wednesday, the planet Venus will be at her brightest in the eastern dawn. The evening moon grows to full on Feb. 14, appearing near the sickle of Leo.

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at rdoyle@frostburg.edu . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.