“This is where I place my faith—in our collective capacity to mobilize love. If we can shift our view of Great Salt Lake from a lake to be avoided to a lake we cherish; from a body of wasted water to an ancient body of wisdom; not to exploit, dam, and dike, but to honor and respect as a sovereign body, our relationship and actions toward the lake will be transformative.”
― Terry Tempest Williams
On the morning of August 26 I attended Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson’s Book Group at the downtown Salt Lake City library. She was facilitating a conversation about Terry Tempest Williams’s ground-breaking New York Times essay entitled I Am Haunted By What I’ve Seen At Great Salt Lake. BYU Professor and Ecologist Ben Abbott shared the stage and Williams repeatedly credited him and his research for alerting her to the extremely urgent need of our lake. “Change or die” is how she summed up her remarks. As I understand it, allowing and therefore participating in the death of Great Salt Lake will lead to the death of an internationally important avian ecosystem. But it will also lead to many deaths of all who depend on that system. Yes, valuable businesses will die, but so will many children and those with compromised respiratory systems. But all who breathe the dangerous particulates blown from the skeletal remains of her body will suffer some degree of degradation to their health. Such pollution has and will continue to manifest damage to those in utero. It has and will continue to cause neurological damage to all. There is no truly safe level according to the research.
When asked what those in the audience could do, Ben paused for some time and then urged us to talk abou it. To have as many civil conversations with others about the lake. To sincerely listen to the concerns of those less inclined to care and then share from our heart in respectful ways why it matters. It matters to me for all the reasons I’ve noted above. It matters even more because I have children, grandchildren, and friends who live in proximity to the lake. Who feel the effects more than I do in terms of health. But, as we learned from dead Lake Owen in California, the ashes of a cremated large body of water sucked dry by agriculture unfortunately get spread across the nation. For many years it was the largest particulate polluter in the U.S..
May I suggest briefly another thing we can do? Explore the ideas in Adam Grant’s book, Think Again.
I’m surprised it took this long for me to get around to reading it. Especially given that half the name of this conversation group begins with the title Think Again for similar reasons. I listened to it twice last month and found it extremely engaging and enlightening.
Despite Adam writing as a Warton Business School professor, his books are not specifically aimed at business leaders and entrepreneurs. Adam writes just as much for activists, artists, scientists, makers, educators, couples, parents, and political and religious leaders. And Think Again is a book that can help us save our beloved Great Salt Lake. I hope you’ll read it.
In fact, Latter-Day Saint Earth Stewardship is covering this book in their September 6 Book group. Here is the Zoom link if you’d like to join the conversation.
And here are just a few great quotes from Think Again that might help us as we seek to engage in conversation with others about Great Salt Lake: