Creating an Environment that Profits Everyone
April 23, 2018|Posted in: Uncategorized
Seems like every time I get an urge to write in this blog anymore, I am starting off with “I’m not a political guy, and this isn’t a political blog” … which would tend to make my readers (all seven of you) start to wonder if perhaps the opposite wasn’t closer to the truth.
But the fact that certain issues have become political hot potatoes under the current regime doesn’t negate the fact that they are still important issues; frankly, I find myself getting more and more angry these days at the people who seem bound and determined to destroy the planet that *I* have to live on for reasons that benefit only them.
Case in point:
I was out cycling the other day and was stopped on an overpass that crossed CA 101. Traffic was at a crawl. Actually that’s an understatement: it was moving, but a good-sized tortoise could’ve left it in the dust. As I’m looking down, something shiny catches my eye (yeah, THERE’s a surprise …). Not a half-dozen cars down the line, someone in a silver Ford Flex is tossing pieces of what appears to be foil right out the window. My guess is, he was opening a power bar or cigarettes or something, just tearing off wrapper and letting it flutter down the highway.
What the what?
I’m not a violent person, but certainly wanted to tap the guy on the shoulder. With a 2×4.
There’s a lot of talk (and very little else) these days on the subject of climate change, but as Americans, what we are really concerned with is our environment–in the truest sense of the word. You see, the term “environmental problem” is a political term that perpetuates a gross misconception: killing the planet’s ecosystems is a human behavior problem. We do whatever we feel like, earth-be-damned, so long as it supports our environment: interstates, hot showers, and free wi-fi.
To be sure, we’re not the only species that do this. For example, if left to their own devices, beavers would have the whole planet be an interconnect series of Everglades. They build dams to create standing water in the middle of rivers, and if that happens to flood out a family of rabbits too close to the river bank, well, tough. The beavers don’t care.
But there are a couple of major differences here. One, there are a lot more humans on the earth than there are beavers, so we do more damage; and two, we know better! We can see the damage being done, but just let it go for the sake of personal profit or convenience.
The ecological systems humans depend on for life support are in crisis, and our is the root cause. Translated, that means the problems are less “environmental and much more related to how we go about meeting and wants in ecologically disruptive ways. Manipulating, exploiting, and destroying the world–this isn’t new for our species, but these days it’s happening on an unprecedented scale, and getting worse.
We’ve been preaching ecology since the 1970s, but our behavior since then has proven that simply educating people seldom leads to significant changes in behavior. Motivating factors–fear or guilt, for instance–aren’t much use, either. As the moron on 101 demonstrated, people continue to mindlessly and consciously engage in behaviors that drive environmental destruction–despite widespread awareness and professed concern. Need more evidence? Nearly half of Americans are “concerned” or “alarmed” about global warming … yet these same people routinely fly across the country for a one-day business trip, eschew carpools, and keep the temperature in their homes 70 Fahrenheit. We waste millions of gallons of water (not to mention flushing untold chemicals into the ground water) preserving lush lawns, we build shiny new high-rises in lots next to empty but perfectly salvageable buildings, and throw away a working cell phone every few months so we can get a new one to buy more stuff.
Change is hard; I get that. Human beings are reluctant to change their behavior even under the most dire of circumstances–and vague environmental dangers typically don’t arouse the kind of fight-or-flight urgency that motivates people to act.
Worse, we’re talking about systems that are largely unsustainable already … which means our current reality–our environment–needs a massive overhaul. That’s even more difficult than changing the thinking of individuals.
If we are to survive–and some days, I’m not sure we deserve to–but if we are to survive, we need organized collective action free of monetary incentives and/or political cronyism. And to do that, we need to realign our thinking as individuals, with Mother Nature as the cornerstone of true sustainability.