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Kathleen Dean Moore speaks of moral environmentalism

Kathleen Dean Moore speaks of moral environmentalism

Activist, philosopher and author Kathleen Dean Moore will be presenting a lecture at the Salem Public Library as part of their “Uniquely Oregon: Understanding How Oregonians Connect to their Communities, History, and Land” series. Moore will be examining the moral responsibilities of caring for the environment.

Moore is the author or editor of ten books and a philosophy professor at Oregon State University. Her work is an investigation of a human’s spiritual connection to wilderness.

She believes her position as a nature writer and an environmental ethicist to be a difficult one to maintain in modern times. She says, “The question is whether I can continue to write about the beauty and comfort of wild places, even as they vanish, even as they are paved over and poisoned. What is the work of a writer in a wounded world?”

Moore hopes her presentation at Salem Public Library will bypass political stances and agendas and probe a more universal issue regarding the stewardship of Earth. Says Moore, “The event at the library will be a chance for people to set aside debates about policies and management plans and think instead about the foundational questions of what they most deeply value. Why should we save the world in all its richness and possibility? What do we owe our children? How do we weigh our present needs against the needs of the future? What do we love about the world, and what does that love ask of us? My hope is that the evening would provide some clarity about how to go forward, and why we must.”

Moore believes there is more to reason to care for the earth beyond sustaining its resources for continued human consumption. To Moore, the value of nature exists outside of human awareness. She says, “People are, of course, part of nature. With us, evolution has given the universe a voice to celebrate itself and a mind to question its meaning. The earth has value far beyond us, the “heart-breaking beauty that will remain when there is no heart to break for it” (Robinson Jeffers). And we are part of that value, part of the intricate interdependencies that have created a richness of life greater than the world has ever seen. Why is proper stewardship of the earth essential? Because the earth is beautiful, and mysterious, and life-sustaining.”

Moore’s newest book, Moral Ground, is a further exploration of this theme. In it, she compiles the testimonies of 83 world leaders calling for action to save the environment. “Moral Ground is our response to the continuing destabilization and degradation of the Earth systems that sustain our lives. We believe that while the environmental emergencies are scientific and technological issues, and they certainly pose economic problems, at their foundation they are moral problems. They call us seriously to address two central ethical questions. There is the urgent question of moral obligation: Do we have a moral responsibility to the future to leave a livable world? And there is the foundational question of moral aspiration. In our time, what does it mean to live a life that is worthy of us as moral beings?”

Kathleen Dean Moore will be speaking in Salem Public Library’s Loucks Auditorium on Tuesday, October 12, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information about the lecture contact the library at 503-588-6052. For more information about Kathleen Dean Moore go to her website at

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