This is not a wail of sorrow, but a call to action and the elements of a plan. The Catch-22 is that each one of us, cliché, has to ACT, and oh, I wish it wasn’t so, because it’s nice just lying around, drinking beer, Chablis, so forth, munching chips, caviar, watching Oprah, whatever.
I became a genuine environmentalist while in the Navy in the second half of the Sixties. I did some South Seas reef diving and became a bogus shell collector, proud to take only “live” shells, boiling them clean when I got home, thinking that the conches smelled like particularly good seafood. The conches taught me what I needed to know. I found one lying on the sandy bottom, spotted more, and soon harvested five. Score! I took them home, and while they were boiling, did the research – which strikes me as humanity’s general approach to nature, learning about it after we’ve shot, stabbed, strangled and/or overbuilt it. On this occasion I learned that conches eat the brittle star, which eats live coral, exposing the reef to erosion, which exposes the island to the waves, which erode the island – no more island. I had helped to destroy the balance, enabling one species to overwhelm another, breaking the co-dependent chain that sustains all. My ignorance gave the planet deeper grief than could be guessed. Multiplied by a legion of ignorantly indifferent shell collectors, the islands were doomed. Adding greed and superstition to the equation, which institutionalizes and exalts ignorance, we have the entire human race’s approach to the planet today. Personal note, I never took another live shell.
Global warming, global dimming, and overpopulation beset us. We are overheating the planet, interfering with its rainfall, changing the ocean currents, destroying the bottom of the food chain, and breeding like rabbits. But, not to worry, it’s all in some cockamamie book or other; written by ancient nomadic desert dwellers that knew nothing about science, who maintained – unreasonably – that’s it’s all out of our control. Some supreme invisible sky being is “planning” everything for us and in the end, if you believe this drivel, all will come out just hunky-dory. It’s all for the best, just ask Pat Robertson, or any other nut bag right wing true believer.
The rich who benefit most from natural destruction, and all who help them, are intentionally committing high crimes and misdemeanors against life on this planet; they would be felonies if committed against human beings – “but we gotta kill those forests to feed all those babies” (lining fat pockets). Until it ends. Completely.
The numbskulls are corrupting our laws and tossing aside every value other than material profit and individual power, still subdividing farmland, planting high-rise condos on our waterfronts, eating the spoils of the global holocaust, and taking immense pride in their ability to waste gas and ruin the air in a Hummer, which they have somehow mentally transmuted to the end-all of human existence. Well, they’re about to find out how right they are. I hope those Hummers come with deep space life-support.
Many people care more about some redneck bastard’s paternity on Jerry Springer, than the planet’s survival (literally, “some redneck bastard”). Money, sex, drugs, and cheap thrills prevail – as commodity, as constant pastime, as life pursuit. It’s obvious that we’re much too stupid as a species to prevent our own extinction; it’s just too bad we have to take most other species with us when we go – bad sports us.
Alas, it was such a beautiful planet. Now, it’s on its way to becoming a lifeless and barren husk. Don’t think of it as desert, think of it as Palm Springs after all the water runs out. Mars is us.
According to the best science, we’ve got ten years left to take this issue on seriously and save our butts. It may well be less, no one can accurately predict the rate of decay. It will take most of us to accomplish any earthly salvation, but if we don’t confront and dispose of our garbage: religion; overpopulation; short-term economic self-interest; and our ostrich-like tendency to duck and cover in order to avoid seeing our approaching doom, we’re screwed.
We must stop over consumption, kick capitalism into a servant’s status in our democratic life, and curb the excesses of individual and tribal (read also national) self-interest, and put the societal kibosh on religious fanaticism – it is a mental disorder, pure and simple. Impossible, you say? That’s my point: good luck wishes and the spin of prayer are about all we seem willing to invest in our own survival. If it is impossible to resist, I want to use a different word than extinction, which the movies have helped us to accept as, oh, yes, inevitable, that. Suicide must apply, instead – insane self-extermination.
WAYS TO REDUCE CARBON FOOTPRINTS: Abstracted: “Not So Carbon Friendly” Jennifer Anderson, Portland Tribune. Sound Off – www.portlandtribune.com
ACTION: Measure: Lifetime carbon dioxide saved in Metric Tons)
- · Recycle newspaper, magazines, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans – 17 tons
- · Replace old refrigerator with energy-efficient model – 19 tons
- · Replace 10 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones – 36 tons
- · Replace single-glazed windows with energy-efficient windows – 21 tons
- · Reduce miles driven from 231 to 155 per week – 147 tons
- · Increase car fuel economy from 20 miles per gallon to 30 – 148 tons
- · REDUCE NUMBER OF CHILDREN BY ONE – 9,441 tons
Data from U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s personal emissions calculator and calculations by OSU statistics professor Paul Murtaugh. Annual totals based on lifespan of 80 (female expectancy U.S.) Source: Paul Murtaugh.
Under current conditions, each child in the U.S. adds about 9,4441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the parents’ carbon legacy during his lifetime. That’s 5.7 times more than the average childless person. A child born in China has a fifth of the impact of a child born in the U.S. The carbon legacy and greenhouse gas impact of having a child is almost 20 times more important than other ecologically minded lifestyle choices like driving a fuel-efficient car, recycling or being energy-efficient. The same conclusions roughly apply to fresh water consumption.
MORE RAGING GOOD NEWS:
DROWNING – In 1994, the Smithsonian‘s Wilson Quarterly stated, “Some of the environmental changes may produce irreversible damage to the Earth’s capacity to sustain life.” The island of Tobago in the Caribbean is being inundated by 3-4 feet per year (ten times faster than ten years ago) and is expected to lose 30-40 feet per year in the next ten. “Science and technology may not be able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the environment or continued poverty for much of the world.”
Seven Feet Not Only Possible, But Likely
It’s been widely acknowledged that the IPCC estimates from 2007 are too conservative when it comes to sea level rise. Unofficial updates to that research, publicized in March 2009 at the Copenhagen Climate Congress, said at minimum the world is likely to see half a meter, with more than a meter well within the realm of possibility. A new piece in Yale Environment 360 goes beyond that.
The world’s major coastal cities will undoubtedly receive most of the attention as sea level rise threatens infrastructure. Miami tops the list of most endangered cities in the world, as measured by the value of property that would be threatened by a three-foot rise. This would flood all of Miami Beach and leave downtown Miami sitting as an island of water, disconnected from the rest of Florida. Other threatened U.S. cities include New York/Newark, New Orleans, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa-St Petersburg, and San Francisco. Osaka/Kobe, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, London and Nagoya are among the most threatened major cities outside of North America
Preserving coastal cities will require huge public expenditures, leaving smaller coastal resort communities to fend for themselves. Manhattan, for example, is likely to beat out Nags Head, North Carolina for federal funds, a fact that recreational beach communities must recognize when planning a response to sea level rise.
Which brings up the appalling fact that many cities are developing public housing in floodplains. It may be just in time for property developers to cash in before the land goes under. Will we, the dense public, be invited to bail out subsequently sinking subsidized housing? Will we eventually build seawalls thirty feet high at public expense to protect uninsurable money pits?
SUFFOCATING – We may not have to worry about that. If the Arctic becomes six degrees warmer, half the world’s permafrost will likely thaw, probably to a depth of a few metres, releasing most of the carbon and methane accumulated there over thousands of years say experts on permafrost. Methane is a 25 times more potent warming gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). This why some climate scientists call for a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels, recommending that emissions peak by 2015 and decline three per cent per year.
Meanwhile, energy experts believe a new generation of low-cost, thin-film solar roof and outside wall coverings being made today has the potential to eliminate burning coal and oil to generate electricity – if governments have the political will to fully embrace green technologies. Read more: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/20-2
We have to stand up to those fossil fuel giants and make them stand down. They are working against all life as we know it. There is NO excuse for it.
GROWTH and DEVELOPMENT – As to population, experts predict twice as many people in the United States by the year 2050. More babies are being born today than during the so-called “Baby-Boomer” generation and we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! The ridiculous taboos around the issue of human population – usually “politically correct” arguments of small practical value – are a direct threat to our own dear, precious, misdirected, unthinking selves. We’re breeding ourselves out of room.
No brainer: unchecked growth demands greater and greater amounts of shrinking resources. The scale of many of our dilemmas – e.g. public health and housing – is attributable to too many people competing for too few resources in too small a space. Get a clue! It would seem, therefore, that some education and some action on this issue might be in order. Yet, religious institutions militantly urge membership to procreate, and sponsor armies of child-producing sectarian immigrants. Business leadership focuses on lower wages, larger markets and plentiful cheap labor. Timorous local, state and federal elected leaders bicker over tax-funded population education, and resist tax-funded birth prevention. We argue over sex education, birth control, and abortion while our overcrowded house burns down. But we can get kiddie porn on the Comcast cable monopoly!
The nation has conducted the biggest prison-building program in history, even as the hard crime rate falls. This may be due to “effective community policing,” but it is also systematic suppression of a youthful surplus male underclass without family wage jobs. Statistically, economic development largely benefits a relatively small group of players: nine-tenths of the people grin and bear eroding livability, falling wages and rising prices in a rat race fueled by non-productive speculation. We have, created whole new crimes – e.g. “simple” marijuana possession – and longer “minimum” sentences to keep our disaffected unemployed off our city streets.
For many leaders, there is no apparent alternative. Most business, elected and mainstream media leadership extols an almost mystical faith in “growth,” pursuing mythical future taxes that can never catch up with the infrastructure stresses the growth produces – particularly as corporately manipulated voters cut off tax money via “popular” ballot initiatives, and corporate lawyers run loops around the bureaucrats, do-gooders and the long-suffering public.
HOPE, THOUGH – We can turn the whole thing around right now if we have the courage to do it. We can join action committees, raise our voices in common cause to insist on green jobs, rebuild our decaying infrastructure and repair the damages of unchecked “growth and development;” there’s plenty of money, and posterity in that. Let’s clean up the Super Fund and Brown Sites – there’s work there for generations and we can charge the polluters for the damages – why shouldn’t they pay for their own destructive mess? Franklin Roosevelt improved our National Parks; they all need a spruce up right now. We can make the corporations pay us to reforest the slopes and lands they have butchered in their quest for the almighty dollar. We can make them pay a fair price for the minerals and resources they tear out of public lands for $5 per acre; why are we giving away our gold in the ground without a public cut? Cries for private enterprise are all well and good, but the public has a collective need for a life free from want and fear – have we forgotten that? Why should we let one class of narrow-minded, mean-spirited, selfish people stand in the way of the rest of humanity and planetary survival? What is this, Easter Island all over on a global scale? Let’s build those damned statues, gang, it’s all they’ll remember us by, whoever they may be. What a race of wusses we have become. Bawk-bawk-bawk, hear the chickens squawk.
RELATED: EASTER ISLAND BLUES
“We have it in our power to remake the world!” – Thomas Paine, American author, patriot, founder.
NOTABLE FINAL THOUGHTS:
In 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote in the Power Elite:
“Two things are needed in a democracy: articulate and knowledgeable publics, and political leaders who, if not men of reason, are at least reasonably responsible to such knowledgeable publics as exist. Such a public and such leaders – either of power or of knowledge – do not now prevail, and knowledge does not now have democratic relevance in America.”
The rich are generally blind or indifferent to the social consequences of ignoring the welfare of the general citizenry. In the end, we all pay for their selfish indifference. If we, the people don’t get smart pretty quickly, we, the people will perish much sooner than expected, and NOT due to any particular plan, but simply because of plain old human selfishness and self-deception. The rich will succeed in killing us; our only consolation is that we will take them with us. Won’t we?
The time for each one to reach one, each one to teach one, is NOW.
“Act. There may be no result in your lifetime, but without action, there will be no result at all.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
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