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   2 Carl Sagan

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1:Many good poets are really essayists who write very short essays. ~ Nicholson Baker,
2:There are some short essays that are very grave, and most contemporary novels are lighter than air. ~ Fran Lebowitz,
3:Every generation worries that educational standards are decaying. One of the oldest short essays in human history, dating from Sumer some 4,000 years ago, laments that the young are disastrously more ignorant than the generation immediately preceding. ~ Carl Sagan,
4:My afternoon comp class is not persuaded. In fact, they feel ill-treated...I've read three short essays aloud, anonymously, for the purpose of inspiring discussion or, failing discussion, private misgiving. It's my hope that if the majority of these intellectually addled young folk actually hear their words aloud, if they are forced to digest not only their advice to me but the logic that led to this advice, they will, if not change their minds, at least become acquainted with doubt. ~ Richard Russo,
5:I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of Gaussian distribution curves. It was a point obvious in a way, but rarely talked about. I drew curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down. One idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I had found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics. . . . I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books. ~ Carl Sagan,
6:We were to write a short essay on one of the works we read in the course and relate it to our lives. I chose the "Allegory of the Cave" in Plato's Republic. I compared my childhood of growing up in a family of migrant workers with the prisoners who were in a dark cave chained to the floor and facing a blank wall. I wrote that, like the captives, my family and other migrant workers were shackled to the fields day after day, seven days a week, week after week, being paid very little and living in tents or old garages that had dirt floors, no indoor plumbing, no electricity. I described how the daily struggle to simply put food on our tables kept us from breaking the shackles, from turning our lives around. I explained that faith and hope for a better life kept us going. I identified with the prisoner who managed to escape and with his sense of obligation to return to the cave and help others break free. ~ Francisco Jim nez,
7:Crutzen wrote up his idea in a short essay, “Geology of Mankind,” that ran in Nature. “It seems appropriate to assign the term ‘Anthropocene’ to the present, in many ways human-dominated, geological epoch,” he observed. Among the many geologic-scale changes people have effected, Crutzen cited the following: • Human activity has transformed between a third and a half of the land surface of the planet. • Most of the world’s major rivers have been dammed or diverted. • Fertilizer plants produce more nitrogen than is fixed naturally by all terrestrial ecosystems. • Fisheries remove more than a third of the primary production of the oceans’ coastal waters. • Humans use more than half of the world’s readily accessible fresh water runoff. Most significantly, Crutzen said, people have altered the composition of the atmosphere. Owing to a combination of fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air has risen by forty percent over the last two centuries, while the concentration of methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas, has more than doubled. “Because of these anthropogenic emissions,” Crutzen wrote, the global climate is likely to “depart significantly from natural behavior for many millennia to come. ~ Elizabeth Kolbert,

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