Dr. Harvard Ayers (left) and David Harman testify before the Environmental Protection Agency about the Proposed Clean Power Plan, Atlanta, July 2014. 

David H. Harman is an unexpected mix of businessman, environmentalist and self-taught scientific journalist.  Not long after he became a North Carolina CPA, he joined the Sierra Club and became active in the local Blue Ridge Group in Boone, NC.  He has tried to sound the alarm about climate change for many years and is co-author of Arctic Gardens—Voices from an Abundant Land, a non-fiction book that details the lives of First Nation peoples living in the arctic of North America and how climate change is affecting their subsistence lifestyles with differing migration patterns for caribou, different ice freezing and melting, and changes in vegetation.

 

His business experience includes public accounting, co-founding a company that manufactures certified tornado shelters made of renewable wood; co-owning and managing a log homes manufacturer; founding member of community bank; manager and owner of home textiles company; financial consultant focused on business turnarounds.

 

His environmental activism includes being co-founder of non-profit organization that has developed an innovative tax equity finance model to match investors with certain tax profiles with non-profit organizations seeking photovoltaic energy systems for their physical locations; co-founding 350 Boone, a local unit of 350.org; protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline four times in Washington, DC;  organizing busloads of activists to New York City to take part in the Peoples Climate March; traveling to the Yukon and Alaska to observe lifestyles of indigenous peoples there; board of directors of Appalachian Voices; attending Duke Energy shareholders’ meeting and telling Jim Rogers and the Board that Duke must hasten transition to renewables; lobbying NC Senator Richard Burr; lobbying NC Senator Kay Hagan.

 

Dr. Harvard G. Ayers, a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, is a social scientist who writes general interest books and journalistic pieces to explain contemporary environmental and social justice issues of great interest.  As examples of his book credits, he was Senior Editor of An Appalachian Tragedy: Air Pollution and Tree Death in the Eastern Forests of North America (1998) Sierra Club Books, and Senior Author of Arctic Gardens: Voices from an Abundant Land (2010) Arctic Voices. His main intent in these two scientifically researched volumes has been to show the fascinating intersection of modern environmental issues including air pollution and climate change with modern cultures in the Appalachian coal fields and “climate change ground-zero”  of the Arctic of Alaska and adjacent Canada, the province of Native American and First Nations peoples. Each of these books sought to present the science, both physical and social, in plain English.

 

Dr. Ayers’ career spanned 44 years of teaching general anthropology (cultural, physical, and archeology) with an emphasis on leading exciting field trips for his students from his base at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, to other cultures in Mexico, the Native American tribes in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona, and Eskimo and Indian tribes in the Arctic of Alaska and Canada. Two of his students of the Arctic trip, including Dave Harman, have actually joined him as co-authors of the Arctic book, and of course, Dave is Senior Author of Train Wreck Earth.

 

Dr. Ayers also has a long career in founding and leading environmental nonprofit organizations, such as the Sierra Club Native American Sites Committee, Appalachian Voices, Coal River Mountain Watch, and the Friends of Blair Mountain, the latter two being in West Virginia. Besides Train Wreck Earth, he is also producing the auto-biography of internationally-known New Mexico artist, the late Alex Seowtewa, of Zuni Pueblo. Earlier, Dr. Ayers founded the Southwest Native American Art Foundation, which provided funds for a part of Mr. Seowtewa’s and his family’s mural art in a Seventeenth-Century Catholic mission in Zuni.          

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“If we think of a world that’s likely to be habitable in another century we have to think about how we’re going to preserve the integrity of the basic units that do indeed still run the world. You may think of the world as being run by industrial and political interests that are well established and well organized, economic interests that are well organized, but that’s a superficial view. In fact, those interests float on the biotic resources of the Earth. And it’s those biotic resources that are being challenged by disruption from various sources. We are talking at the moment about the climatic disruption that changes the environment out from under every basic structural unit of the Earth. And it reaches to the point where those changes produce feedbacks that accentuate the climatic disruption. So it feeds on itself and that undermines the very basis of the human environment globally and locally.

            “It’s totally unacceptable—a highly threatening dangerous set of transitions. . . .

Telephone interview by authors, Dr. George Woodwell, July 13, 2016

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