Monday, June 13, 2011
Over the past few months, we’ve hosted or met with a number of interesting people.
For instance, Lester Brown had dinner with Carl Safina, prominent ecologist and marine conservationist and president of Blue Ocean Institute. Safina’s most recent book is A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout about the Gulf oil catastrophe. And he now has a television series on PBS, Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina.
Alexey Yablokov, a prominent Russian environmentalist, former member of USSR parliament and environmental advisor to the Russian President Yeltsin and to the Gorbachev administration met with our researchers. Yablokov brought a copy of his newest book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (Kindle edition).
Meanwhile, a few weeks back, Lester attended the 50th anniversary of the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS). A surprise discovery at the meeting was that his first book, Man, Land and Food (see earlier blog post), was prominently placed on a timeline of achievements. It was the only book on the timeline and John Schnittker, one of the lead organizers of the anniversary and formerly Undersecretary of Agriculture at ERS, noted how much that kind of integrated research was needed today.
Wes Jackson, founder and president of The Land Institute met with our staff and talked about Natural Systems Agriculture, which his institute has developed. The Land Institute has worked for over 30 years on the problem of agriculture. Its purpose is to develop an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops.
Paul Ritter and his son JP had lunch with Les. Ritter is the great grandson of the man who established the PJ Ritter cannery in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The company routinely purchased the tomatoes Les grew.
Lester and Janet Larsen had lunch with Professor Wang Tao, head of CAREERI, the Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and one of the world’s leading desert scholars.
The Population Institute set up a breakfast briefing for Lester and several members of Congress to talk about population and environmental issues.
Lester was also invited to a dinner discussion sponsored by Madeleine Albright of the Albright Stonebridge Group on the topic of food security as a national security issue.
On a personal note, one of the more important close encounters for Lester, happened earlier this year. While he was en route from London to give a presentation at Oxford, Lester was driven past the home of Sir Roger Bannister. Bannister was a bit of a hero to Lester, as he was the first person to run a sub four-minute mile (3:59.2). Lester’s faculty host had him inscribe his book World on the Edge for Sir Roger. Recently Les received an autographed photograph of Roger Bannister crossing the finish line at the end of that historic mile in 1952. The inscription said simply, “Thank you for your kind comment. Roger Bannister.”
Cheers to you all,
Reah Janise Kauffman
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