BOOKS: Getting Down To Earth: A Call to Environmental Action

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1993:

Getting Down To Earth: A Call to Environmental Action, by John
Heidtke. Paulist Press (997 Macarthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ 07430), 1993, 179
pages, paper $9.95. [ISBN 0-8091-9571-2]
This book is definitely not your
run-of-the-mill environmental textbook for
young adults. John Heidtke is more ambi-
tious and, ultimately, more basic in his
goal. Urging his readers to discover and
define their own moral values, he combines
the emerging personal awareness of adoles-
cence with environmental ethics, and there-
by encourages the development of an inte-
grated ecological conscience.

Each chapter is a survey/work-
sheet designed to help students recognize
the values inherent in common situations
and to apply them in their own lives.
Quotes from the Bible and from modern
nature philosophers illustrate each step of
the process. Sample situations deal with
recycling, energy conservation and, quite
frequently, the rights of non-human ani-
mals. Two suggested activities are to
“protest violations of animal rights” and to
“adopt an endangered or protected animal
at a zoo or through an environmental
The book’s most powerful state-
ments, however, are contained in the six
thumbnail biographies of famous role mod-
els. St. Francis of Assisi is an obvious
choice, while Thoreau and Muir are includ-
ed for their influence on the modern envi-
ronmental movement. While each sketch
is well-written, the essay on Rachel Carson
is particularly affecting for those of us who
were young adults ourselves when Silent
Spring was first published.
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