Ohio’s Natural History: Four informal rules of ecology

Written by Curator Emeritus Bob Glotzhober

The morning news related that Barry Commoner died Sunday, September 30, 2012. Perhaps many people today don’t remember him, and our youth have likely never heard of him. But Barry Commoner is credited as a founder of modern ecology and one of its most provocative thinkers and mobilizers. He was a U.S. biologist and educator who taught at Washington Universityand Queens College. His warnings, since the 1950s, of the environmental threats posed by modern technology (including nuclear weapons, use of pesticides and other toxic chemicals, and ineffective waste management) in such works as his classic Science and Survival (1966) made him one of the foremost environmentalist spokesmen of his time. He was a third-party candidate for U.S.president in 1980.

While not an Ohioan, Commoner was active in ecology long before Earth Day and carried forward important thought and attention to the environment which supports each of us. Perhaps the best eulogy I can offer is to repeat here four simple but deeply profound statements that he developed. Probably many more of us remember these statements than remember Commoner. Read them. Contemplate them. Incorporate their deeper meaning into your life. The result would be the most significant action one could take for the environment and in memory of Barry Commoner.

Barry Commoner’s four informal rules of ecology:

Everything is connected to everything else.
Everything must go somewhere.
Nature knows best.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Bob Glotzhober
Senior Curator of Natural History


Posted October 2, 2012
Topics: Natural History

Subscribe to Our Blogs