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Articles by Adam Werbach

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Adam Werbach presented this speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco on Dec. 8, 2004. Further discussion of the issues he raises can be found on And read more on the debate over environmentalism’s prospects here.

Adam Werbach.

I am here to perform an autopsy.

Autopsies begin with these words.

Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae

Translated from Latin, this means: “This is the place where death rejoices to teach those who live.”

I tremble at them, because this is not an easy speech for me to give.

I know in my mind that to forego the examination of death is to fail to honor the dead. But all I can think about right now is my love for what environmentalism was.

Nobody enjoys an autopsy, and yet its value to life is indisputable.

The word “autopsy” means to “see for yourself.” An autopsy is the key tool that doctors use to determine whether their diagnosis was correct, and to see if the treatment was effective. In the past, autopsies were common — in the 1950s, 50 percent of deaths had autopsies performed. Today, that... Read more