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Broken stones scrathced white, Andy Goldsworthy, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, January 1978

IN THE SUMMER OF 1992, the Louisiana Pacific Lumber Company decided to cut several stands of old-growth forest on land it owned on the Albion River, in Mendocino County, California. The forest and associated meadows were much loved in the community, and a group of local people responded by occupying the forest for two months until a court order to stop the cutting could be obtained.

Fifteen people lived in the trees. Hundreds of others came every day to stand at the property boundary, held back by sheriffs. It became a celebration joined in by Alice Walker and many others from all over Northern California. So deep a sense of community was formed that the two-month occupation of the forest was dubbed The Albion Nation, and its protest was successful. But such a confident uprising and such success are all too rare.

 There has never been a greater need for a positive vision of the future. We face a growing consensus that our ability to live sustainably upon the earth is diminishing rapidly. Ignorant of the consequences, we have seriously depleted natural resources, and continue to do so. We have set in motion global cycles of warming, ozone depletion, and overpopulation, the effects of which we are only now beginning to understand.

Frightening images confront us. Forty thousand children a day die of preventable diseases related to malnutrition, the result of overpopulation. In Australia sheep now go blind from solar radiation let in by the ozone hole. Worldwide, we are snuffing out species at a rate unprecedented since the extinction of the dinosaurs.

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