Payson Stevens – A Lifetime of Art & Science in Multiple Media
Understanding and presenting/interpreting art and science has been the path of my intellectual, artistic, and spiritual growth. To be in Nature and experience the depth of beauty and structure, the patterns and functions, is a never-ending source of scientific and aesthetic wonder. If there is anything in this world that needs to be sustainable, then it is beauty.

Statement

This website is a “digital autobiography” archiving 50 years of my work in different disciplines. It offers a mix of science and art projects that have been a lifetime focus and ultimately express a love and engagement with the Natural World and the Earth System. It is not so much a “this and that” listing of “accomplishments,” but rather an interactive exploration of specific projects that are currently not available elsewhere. It is hoped that the diverse work shown here will encourage and inspire younger generations to actively protect and conserve the environment as well as consider unconventional careers following their dreams.

Some of this material is presented in the Science Communication module and the InterNetwork, Inc. section and has important historical relevance in the study of the earth system from space with satellite sensors. The InterNetwork Media, Inc. section has pioneering work done in the early years (1980-90s) of the digital New Media transformation (e.g., educational CD-ROMs, digital presentations). Together they represent the convergent revolutionary aspects of technology, remote sensing of the Earth, and global/instantaneous communication that started the Digital Internet Age, and all the potent issues that challenge humans to create a sustainable, planetary biodiversity or experience greater social, economic, and political chaos.

The eight modules (a few of which are linked to existing/older websites), offer different aspects of my multi-layered life in science and art. During my youth and academic training, pursuing my left and/or right brain was an on-going conflict, which included family forces and societal pressures. Fortunately, the Counter Culture Movement/revolution of the 1960s was also part of the zeitgeist that helped support the unconventional path that many of my generation forged. The idea that a life could be more than the 1950s “gray flannel suit/commuter/office life” of our fathers and the “leave it to Beaver/stay at home” life of our mothers was an important liberation that helped usher in many important movements: civil rights, women’s rights, environmental protection, gender/gay rights, human potential movement, anti-nuke/anti-war protests, and non-traditional/Eastern spiritual exploration.

Two of the more important projects of my career, shown here, focused on applying my scientific and media/design skills to conserve/preserve the environment. Both entailed my managing/spearheading small professional teams to protect specific ecosystems with detailed impact analysis, combining scientific assessment, focused writing, strong arguments, and effective visuals. The technical analysis and critique to the US Department of Interior Lease Sale No 48 Environmental Impact Report successfully prevented oil development off the coast of Southern California, and included my testifying before a US Administrative Law Judge (1978, Oceans OCS Leasing Process). The other project (a six year effort) was writing (by a small group of Indian and international volunteers) the 240-page application, and follow up support, for the successful inscription of the Great Himalayan National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2014, GHNP WHS Executive Summary). This important recognition, of an existing protected Indian national park, further ensures safeguarding the only area of the Western Himalayas with its unique biodiversity and natural splendor.

The path towards greater individual freedoms and increasing democratic norms was challenging 50 years ago. Many doors opened that are/were taken for granted, but the uncertainty that these enormous disruptive cultural and technological shifts brought also created culture wars that continue to pit global progressive versus reactionary/conservative tribes against each other. It’s an on-going struggle that has defined Homo sapiens brief history for the last 50,000 years. The graph of democratic and social progress, even with the historical up and down blips, show an ever-upward trend towards greater individual freedoms.

It has been a rewarding and appropriate use of my expertise to educate, promote, preserve, protect, and artistically interpret the environment for over forty years. Sadly, decades of scientific global climate warnings were not heeded by the larger body politic (e.g., governments, businesses, societies)...or worse denied them. It is a great tragedy that our chance to stop these impacts, with reasonable effectiveness, may now have passed (Losing Earth). Global warming/climate change, with all the highly variable, extreme, and negative consequences will be an on-going, painful shock for many life forms on earth (EcoCide). Environmentally conscious individuals of my generation and the one immediately previous were not been able to overcome those that would sacrifice our Earth solely for profit and power. Yet, did not many benefit from our Age of Consumption, of Plastics, and Cheap Fuel in our homogenizing BigMacWorld? Is the tipping point truly before us? Will the positive feedback mechanisms reinforcing the impacts of global climate change further exacerbate heating up our planet? Where will all the environmental refugees go? How many unique ecosystems or endangered species, or those not yet threatened, will be further greatly reduced or disappear forever? And our wondrous, mostly unexplored oceans, how will they fare? How much more human folly can we tolerate?

What can we each still do to not be part of this human experiment and hopefully change its dangerous course? It is now or never.

View More