USU researcher among experts
in DiCaprio's '11th Hour' documentary
August 1, 2007 | Utah State University researcher Joseph
Tainter is among about 70 sustainability experts featured
in Leonardo DiCaprio's upcoming eco-documentary, The
Scheduled to open Aug. 31 in Salt Lake City, the film,
which takes its title from the last moment change is
possible, explores the current peril of the earth's
ecosystems and how today's generations can impact life-sustaining
A noted anthropologist and historian, Tainter joined
USU as head of the department of environment and society
in July. He authored the 1988 book The Collapse
of Complex Societies, which examines the demise
of several ancient civilizations and applies lessons
from history to modern-day societies.
"Sustainability is a uniting theme of the book
and my research," Tainter said. "What do members
of a society value enough to work to sustain?"
Tainter learned first hand about conflict between human
needs and environmental values during his 28-year tenure
with the U.S. Forest Service, he said.
"Fundamental questions about resource management
revolve around people's needs, perceptions and values,"
he said. "If we can't address human issues, we
can't address natural resources issues. These are right
at the heart of society and environment."
Prior to his current post, Tainter served as a professor
and researcher with Arizona State University's Global
Institute of Sustainability. He previously served as
project leader of Albuquerque's Cultural Heritage Research
Project, Rocky Mountain Research Station and taught
at the University of New Mexico.
The 11th Hour is scheduled for early release
Aug. 17 in Los Angeles and New York. The film was produced
and narrated by DiCaprio.