At War with the Planet
Barry Commoner
Author: Barry Commoner (1917-)
born May 28, 1917, Brooklyn, N.Y. U.S. biologist and educator. He studied at Harvard University and taught at Washington University and 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 (19
  66) made him one of the foremost environmentalist spokesmen of his time. He was a third-party candidate for U.S. president in 19
Commoner's activist career can be defined as an attempt to weave together a larger vision of social justice. Since the 1960s, he has called attention to parallels between the environmental, civil rights, labor, and peace movements, and connected environmental decline with poverty, injustice, exploitation, and war, arguing that the root cause of environmental problems was the American economic system and its manifestations.
He was instrumental in pointing out that there was a direct association between socioeconomic standing and exposure to environmental pollutants and that economics, not social responsibility, was guiding technological decision making.
Outline of the essay (eight parts)
Part Ⅰ (pp.
  1) Introduction: people live in 2 worlds, natural world and our own world. Part Ⅱ (pp. 2-
  5): Why the two worlds are at war? Part Ⅲ (pp. 6-
  9) Deal with the first law of the ecosphere and the law governing the relationship between man-made object and the surroundings
Part IV. (pp. 10-
  11) The closed cyclical process of ecosphere and the linear process of techno-sphere. Part V. (pp. 12-
  14) The consistent and harmonious nature of ecosphere as contrasted to the rapid change and variation of the techno-sphere. Part VI. (pp. 15-
  16) The consequences of failure of the ecosphere and the techno-sphere. Part VII. (pp. 17-
  21) The danger for us to take sides Part VIII. (pp. 22-
  23) The importance of interplay.
Detailed analysis

  1. abridge: vt. To make shorter by using fewer words. e.g. The story was abridged from the original work. The rights of citizens must not be abridged. 公民权利不能擅予削减。
He decided to abridge his stay here after he received a letter from home. 他接到家信后决定缩短在这里的逗留时间。 。

  2. watershed: n. an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend; (= landmark; turning point) e.g. Leaving her first job was a watershed in her life. 辞去她的第一份工作是她生活中的一个转折点。 Her visit to India proved to be a watershed in her life. 她的印度之行成了她一生的转折点。
as such: (in and of itself, per se)本身,确切地 本身, 本身 说 e.g. Wealth, as such, doesn’t matter much. (财富本身并不重要.) I don’t have a nervous breakdown as such, it was more a reaction to overwork.(我不是真 的得了精神上的病,那只是工作过度的反 映.)
instigate: serve as the inciting cause for (=
promote, inspire, incite; ≈cause, stimulate) e.g. The antigovernment gangsters instigated a rebellion. My children finally instigated me to buy a laptop. instigator: 教唆犯;煽动者
Para. one
We live in two worlds: the natural world and the world of human creation. The common unthinking attitudes towards the two worlds: we are responsible for events of our own world, but not for what occurs in the natural one.
exempt; except
exempt: to release from obligation except: to leave out, omit e.g. He is exempt from punishment about this thing. 关于此事对他已免于处分。 No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly. 谁也难免会讲些废话,错就错在一本正经地讲。 No admittance except on business. 非公莫入。 I have no other wish except to pass the examination. 我除了要通过考试之外,没有别的心愿。 I like her except when she is angry. 除了她发怒的时候,我挺喜欢她。
Para. two: on a planetary scale, this division has been breached.
Globally, the two worlds are no longer separated, having nothing to do with each other. What we do in our world will have effect on the natural world. Transitional sentence
If you breach an agreement, a law, or a promise, you break it. (=violate) If someone or something breaches a barrier, they make an opening in it, usually leaving it weakened or destroyed (formal). (=rupture)
e.g. Traders who breach the rules could face a fine of up to $ 10,0
  00. The enemy’s fierce attack finally breached the walls of the city.
unwitting: adj.
If you describe a person or their actions as unwitting, you mean the person does something or is involved in something without realizing it. (=unintentional; ≠witting) e.g. We are unwitting victims of the unfair system. I feel sorry for my unwitting interruption of their private conversation.
Like the Creation, the portending global events are cosmic…(pp.
Like the Creation of the universe, events that happen in this world may have vast effects, especially on the relationship between the planet Earth and the sun.
to serve as an omen or a warning of;
e.g. Black clouds portend a storm.乌云是暴风雨的
前兆。 What do these strange events portend? 这些奇怪的事件预示着什么? It portends the approach of a violent revolutionary storm. 预示一场猛烈的革命风暴的来临.
exert: exercise; put to use
e.g. His teachings still exert a strong influence. 他的教导仍在产生巨大影响。 You'll have to exert yourself more if you want to pass your exam. 你若想考试及格, 就必须更加努力. To achieve this goal, you must have ambition; likewise you need to exert great efforts. 要实现这一目标,你必须有雄心壮志,同时还 得十分努力。
govern: direct or strongly influence the behavior of; rule
e.g. You should govern your temper 你应该控制你的情绪。 Governed by supply and demand, price is the invisible hand in economics 在经济生活中,价格是看不见的手,取决 於供给与需求关系。 Who are the men who really govern in this country? 谁是这个国家 的真正统治者?
We have been… unaware, … of the potentially disastrous …
Notice the structure of the sentence. It could be reconstructed in the following way: Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we have been tampering with this powerful force, unaware of the potentially disastrous consequences of our actions. It means: We have been doing things without knowing that they may have serious effects on the planet Earth.
vi. to touch or make changes to something which you should not, usually without enough knowledge of how it works or when you are trying to damage it: e.g. Don’t tamper with my affairs. (interfere; meddle) Someone tampered with the documents on my desk. (篡改)
He got the permission by tampering with an official. (贿赂)
very ordinary and therefore not interesting: 现世的, 世俗的, 宇宙的 Mundane matters such as paying bills and shopping for food do not interest her. Even the most mundane things can become objects of beauty in French eyes.即使是最平凡的事物,在法国人的 眼中也是美丽的。 Yet war is in no way supernatural, but a mundane process governed by necessity. That is why Sun Wu Tzu's axiom, "Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles with no danger of defeat", remains a scientific truth.但战争不是神物,仍是世间的一 种必然运动,因此,孙子的规律,“知彼知己,百战不 殆”,仍是科学的真理。
: n. the shape of something rotating rapidly; v. turn in a twisting or spinning motion;
e.g. Jane today wears a nice hat with a swirl of lace around it. A swirl of dust forced the girl to cover her face with her hands. The poor man was swirled away by the current.
soft and wooly, or looking like this: fleecy clouds 如絮的白云 fleecy hair 柔软的头发
adjective done or shown publicly or in an obvious way; not secret: 明显的, 公然的, 蓄意的 overt criticism overt racism He shows no overt signs of his unhappiness. Covert: hidden or secret: covert actions The government was accused of covert military operations against the regime.
very unusual; understood or liked by only a small number of people, especially those with special knowledge: He has an esoteric collection of old toys and games. DISAPPROVING OR HUMOROUS She has a rather esoteric taste in clothes.
verb [I or T] to record, show or express something: The Geiger counter registered a dangerous level of radioactivity. The earthquake was too small to register on the Richter scale. FORMAL His face registered extreme disapproval of what he had witnessed.
adjective FORMAL 1 describes something, especially a gas or other substance, that is poisonous or very harmful: They died from inhaling noxious fumes. 2 harmful and unpleasant: a noxious smell/influence
the specific space occupied by an organism with its habitat
e.g. Amy, trying to keep as far from him as possible, moved across the stone floor of the tower roof, and found a niche which concealed her. He found the right niche for himself. (他为自己找到一份称心的工作.)
niche market就是指“小众市场”,也被称为 “缝隙市场、利基市场”。Niche是相对于mass (大众)而言的,与niche market相对的就是 mass market(大众市场)。Niche market针对 的是被忽略或细分的数量较小的客户群,这部分 市场虽然规模不大,但由于传统营销无法满足此 类需求,因此蕴含丰富的市场机遇。若能有效地 将niche market的市场资源聚合起来,也能产生 可观的利润。市场占有率小却针对性强,例如孕 妇装。 How about long tail?
grandiose: impressive because of unnecessary largeness or grandeur; used to show disapproval (= grand) e.g. He’s always producing grandiose plans that never work. They have gone through those long and bitter deliberations made in presence of some grandiose purpose they had not the means to carry out.
Part three (6-
This part deals with the first law of the ecosphere and the law governing the relationship between man-made objects and the surroundings.
The fish is not only, existentially, a fish, but also an element of this network, which defines its functions. ( para.
  6): The function of the fish is determined by the role it plays in the ecological network. How about a person? Is it also true of a person?
Indeed, in the evolutionary sense, a good care of the network ? the microorganisms and plants, for example ? preceded the fish, which could establish itself only because it fitted properly into the preexisting system.( para.
  6): The fish could play its role because it became a necessary link with the processes preceding it and the processes following it in the ecological system.
A car, for example, imposes itself on the neighborhood rather than being defined by it…(para.
  7): A car does not respond to its environment but insists on its own needs being met...
accommodate v.
To find a place for; have enough space for
e.g. Are there enough shelves to accommodate all our books ? A flat can accommodate a family of five. verb [T] to give what is needed to someone: The new policies fail to accommodate the disabled. We always try to accommodate (= help) our clients with financial assistance if necessary. accommodate yourself verb [R] to change yourself or your behavior to suit another person or new conditions: Some find it hard to accommodate themselves to the new working conditions. The guests are well accommodated. 待客周到。
afflict; inflict
afflict: cause great unhappiness for; distress; (be afflicted with/by) (使折磨;折磨) 使折磨;折磨) inflict: impose something unpleasant (强加于) 强加于) e.g. She was afflicted by the death of her parents.
Famine and war still afflict mankind.
饥荒与战争依旧给人类带来痛苦。 Don‘t inflict your ideas on me. 别把你的想法强加于我。
Defined so narrowly, it is no surprise that cars have properties that hostile to the environment. ( para.
When cars are produced to serve such narrow purposes, it is not surprising that some of their characteristic qualities are harmful to the environment.
. … year by year, less and less of the applied fertilizer was taken up by the crop and progressively more drained through the soil into groundwater, in the form of nitrates that contaminated river, lakes, and water supplies. ( para. 9 ):
When the soil is saturated with nitrogen fertilizer, it cannot take in more so the excess fertilizer finds its way into underground water, thus causing water pollution.
progressively: advancing in amount or intensity (= more and more, increasingly )
His eyesight is becoming progressively worse. 他的视力越来越差. The bank has progressively increased its liquidity. 银行逐渐地增加其流动资产。
Part four (10-
This part deals with the closed cyclical process of ecosphere and the linear process of technosphere.
mold: n. any of various fungi that often cau


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