Our Living Context
Ecologist Martin Ogle
I spend much time in the woods as I always have because that is what my Father taught me to do for recreation and mental well-being. When I was a young boy, we would hike with Dad and Grandfather following a country stream into the woods. Sometimes we would fish, pick berries, fruit, or mushrooms. Mostly, it was about observing nature, seeing birds and animals and appreciating our ecology.
I visited the nature center at Potomac Overlook Park one morning where I met Martin Ogle, chief naturalist for the regional park. By chance, I learned that he would be lecturing about Gaia at the Arlington Artisphere last evening. (Artisphere is housed where the Newsium used to be in Rosslyn.)
“Experience Earth through the eyes of our ancestors and the most recent, scientific understandings. This multi-media presentation by Martin Ogle, Chief Naturalist of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority blends micro and macro levels images of our planet, cultural symbols of Earth and the scientific story of life.”
Being one with the universe
“The Earth personified as a goddess, daughter of Chaos.”
Ogle presented a description of Gaia, our Earth, with a theme of our being one with it. He told stories as recreating an encounter by a Native American boy with a big rock that was to have been the source of all stories.
When he was officially telling stories, he wore a leather head band and would intermittently pound a drum song, or sometimes play a flute or make sounds from a bowl. He used rocks as props too, to discuss geology and paleontology. Projected on the round screen behind were visuals bearing photographs of the universe, planets, nature, and scenes from Potomac Overlook Park.
To me, one of the interesting descriptions was his comparing our human biochemistry and physiology with that of the Earth and universe as we are all systems being parts of a greater system.
Contemplating our relationship to the larger universe was a refreshing break from the daily grind of political news on the other side of the Potomac.
“Gaia in Turmoil
Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis
Edited by Eileen Crist and H. Bruce Rinker
Foreword by Bill McKibben
Table of Contents and Sample Chapters
Gaian theory, which holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system, is more relevant than ever in light of increasing concerns about global climate change. The Gaian paradigm of Earth as a living system, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, has inspired a burgeoning body of researchers working across disciplines that range from physics and biology to philosophy and politics. Gaia in Turmoilreflects this disciplinary richness and intellectual diversity, with contributions (including essays by both Lovelock and Margulis) that approach the topic from a wide variety of perspectives, discussing not only Gaian science but also global environmental problems and Gaian ethics and education.”