Environmental sustainability should be humankind’s top priority, but it clearly is not. Though it is obviously only one of many priorities and goals for individuals in competitive societies, it’s “game over” if pollution makes the planet unsafe. Even worse, it’s “game over, you are a bunch of losers” if we fail to heed the loud and clear reports by legitimate scientists about climate change caused by human activity. Without environmental sustainability, we will all be too sick to pursue other goals such as creativity, social justice, values such as peace and family, and ultimately, wisdom. Here is a brief call to action.
That picture is of a dead albatross in a state of advanced decomposition. You know what is not decomposed? All the goddam plastic it consumed while alive. It’s truly a devastatingly somber picture. No less disturbing should be the reports of turtles with a six-pack holder around its neck, which often kills the animal. Where is the government? Where are God’s children? Where are each of us, you and me? A new report puts it baldly: “Each year, at least eight million tons of plastics leak into the ocean—which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute,” the authors wrote. “If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050.”
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has only exacerbated the problem, as this report shows. It indicates that the EPA is rolling over on pollution standards. How inane does this sound: “DETROIT (AP) – The Trump administration is expected to announce that it will roll back automobile gas mileage and pollution standards. Automakers wanted the government to relax the current standards, which were imposed by the Obama administration to combat climate change. They say the rules will cost the industry billions of dollars and raise vehicle prices.”
On the contrary, scientists from the World Health Organization report alarming facts. This page shows that millions of people die per year from pollution caused by industry, automobiles, etc. It’s a huge problem because polluting the air and water (ground water?) are virtually the opposite of environmental sustainability. Here is a 90-second video about the effects of air pollution. I should know – I experienced pain in my lungs on smoggy days growing up near Los Angeles. My immune system was affected; I had asthma; who knows, I may have seen the beginnings of cancer.
[America], if you proceed much further down the slippery slope, people around the world will stop admiring the good things about you. They’ll decide that your city upon the hill is a slum and your democracy is a sham, and therefore you have no business trying to impose your sullied vision on them. They’ll think you’ve abandoned the rule of law. They’ll think you’ve fouled your own nest. The British used to have a myth about King Arthur. He wasn’t dead, but sleeping in a cave, it was said; in the country’s hour of greatest peril, he would return. You, too, have great spirits of the past you may call upon: men and women of courage, of conscience, of prescience. Summon them now, to stand with you, to inspire you, to defend the best in you. You need them.
Remember, if we as a species don’t have a safe, healthy, sustainable place to live, we are screwed. A species tends to last for about 100,000 years. No species has an unlimited time on Earth, and at the rate we’re going, we’re going to fail at about 100,000. The idea of wrecking this planet and continuing to thrive (run amok?) as a species is a complete non-starter. We cannot do both.
Only a foolish society would see the dangers around it and continue unabated and undeterred. Environmental sustainability is not about tree-hugging or some owl. It’s those things, yes, but it’s about deforestation, CO2 warming the planet and causing serious and potentially irreversible climate changes. With 92% of human beings living in an area that experiences ill effects of human-caused pollution, this is a major problem affecting everyone. Yes, including the rich and powerful.
Do you know what caused the dinosaurs to go extinct? One meteor not any bigger than a city smashing down into the Yucutan Penninsula and disturbing a massive deposit of sulfur. It choked out the sun and almost all life on the planet perished. Who is to say that we humans cannot, absurdly, ruin the planet ourselves? We kill each other for anger, we kill citizens for profit. Why not stretch that phenomenon out and have it account for the wholesale destruction of the environment we depend upon? It’s by no means farfetched.
Think about Detroit, Three Mile Island, or Fukushima Nuclear Reactor, or the Valdez oil tanker, or Erin Brockovich. As her page reads, “Erin’s exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin’s unwavering tenacity that PG & E had been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the ground water. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spear-headed by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents.” This is heroic work, and it’s just a drop in the bucket.
In addition to Brockovich, another heroine in this movement is Rachael Carson. Here is a quote about Carson’s barn-burner of a book, Silent Spring, by Maria Popova:
…[it] spurred violent pushback from those most culpable in the destruction of nature — a heedless government that had turned a willfully blind eye to its regulatory responsibilities and an avaricious agricultural and chemical industry determined to maximize profits at all costs. Those inconvenienced by the truths Carson exposed immediately attacked her for her indictment against elected officials’ and corporations’ deliberate deafness to fact. They used every means at their disposal — a propaganda campaign designed to discredit her, litigious bullying of her publisher, and the most frequent accusation of all: that of being a woman.
Did you know there is a huge conglomeration of plastic that ocean currents and winds have facilitated? It’s three times the size of France. Not even kidding. Here is the outrageous report. If this doesn’t piss you off, you’re not paying attention.
Monsanto is a very unethical multinational corporation. They are emblematic of the lack of environmental sustainability and stewardship that we here in America and around the world desperately need. They are hell-bent on using the possible carcinogen glyphosate (RoundUp) on crops, play games with genetically-modified crops, and generally act like giant assholes. They are absolutely bereft of any concern for environmental sustainability. Did you know that in 25 years, a huge percentage of newborn males is predicted to be autistic? Who the hell needs that? For what? For corporations who pollute to make money? Are you fucking kidding me? As the late, great environmental activist Anita Roddick said, “The biotech industry’s goal is not to feed the hungry, but to feed itself.”
Here is a run-down of one aspect of Monsanto’s evil deeds, from Vanity Fair: “As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.”
Here is an easy-to-read and pretty balanced description of the oil-drilling technique called “fracking.” It, too, is the opposite of environmental sustainability. We should have our collective heads examined for allowing big businesses – who often pay little or no tax – to go to such lengths to bring oil to the surface. Combine that with the fact that climate change is desalinating the oceans and melting permafrost that is hiding huge deposits of peat and methane, and you have a forehead-slapping lack of concern for environmental stewardship.
All this amounts to an alarming crisis of ethics, wisdom, and science. It is foolish to the point of hubris to allow the love of money to wreck our environment, ruin our health, and befoul our only planet. We need to take more responsibility as soon as humanly possible. If Exxon, ConAgra, and the Orwellian-named Evergreen Marine Corporation don’t like it, they need to be neutered so that life can get back to a state of equilibrium, safety, and habitability. We will absolutely be the dumbest and most outrageous species the planet has ever seen if we destroy it because of myopia, the pursuit of profit, and a head-in-the-sand kind of conservatism that ignores scientific facts. If we cannot get our shit together and prioritize environmental sustainability and planetary health, we deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs.
I know this blog was a bit depressing. Frankly, that’s what it was meant to be. We need to be alarmed into pushing conservative politicians, corporations, and head-in-the-sand wealthy people to be truly conservative and fucking CONSERVE. As in, conservation. Here is a piece I wrote about “voting with your dollars,” which is a bit of a ray of sunlight in this otherwise dark situation we find ourselves in.
Now, a few environmental sustainability quotes and stewardship quotes:
“Virtually everyone in the world believes that climate change is real and is caused by human beings, except Republicans in the United States. Especially the people who would know best: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by human activity, and I suspect the other 3 percent are being paid by the fossil fuel industry.”
“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito.”
“You do know, I think, how deeply I believe in the importance of what I am doing. Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent… It is, in the deepest sense, a privilege as well as a duty to have the opportunity to speak out — to many thousands of people — on something so important.”
“Corporate globalists inhabit a world of power and privilege. They see progress at hand everywhere, because from their vantage point the drive to privatize public assets and free the market from governmental interference spreads freedom and prosperity around the world, improving the lives of people everywhere and creating the financial and material wealth necessary to end poverty and protect the environment. They see themselves as champions of an inexorable and beneficial historical process toward erasing the economic and political borders that hinder corporate expansion, eliminating the tyranny of inefficient and meddlesome public bureaucracies, and unleashing the enormous innovation and wealth-creating power of competition and private enterprise.”
“Straightforward, though bracing: if the design of corporate capitalism is unable to sustain values of equality, genuine democracy, liberty, and ecological sustainability as a matter of inherent systemic architecture, what systemic ‘design’ might ultimately achieve and sustain these values? (Especially given the total failure of the traditional twentieth-century alternative, state socialism?).”
“Convenience and cost aren’t everything, even in business, and the important question is whether it is the right thing to do.”
“We could dramatically accelerate innovations in sustainability and social justice just by making choices to use our money for positive solutions.”
“Without clean water, fertile soils and genetic diversity, human survival is not possible. Today, economic development is destroying these one-time commons, resulting in the creation of a new contradiction: Development deprives the very people it professes to help of their traditional land and means of sustenance, forcing them to survive in an increasingly eroded natural world.”
“If capitalism has one pervasive untruth, it is the delusion that business is an open, linear system: that through resource extraction and technology, growth is always possible, given sufficient capital and will. In other words, there are no inherent limits to further expansion, and those who wish to impose them have a political agenda.”
“If you follow your heart, if you listen to your gut, and if you extend your hand to help another, not for any agenda, but for the sake of humanity, you are going to find the truth.” ~ Erin Brockovich
“Our best hope for the future lies with locally owned and managed economies that rely predominantly on local resources to meet the livelihood needs of their members in ways that maintain a balance with the earth.”
“Over the last century, the market has been destroying the commons at an accelerating pace. The belief was that happiness and the good life lay always in the direction of more property and more stuff. The result has been environmental degradation, social breakdown, and so much unhappiness that people resort to drugs in increasing numbers just to feel okay. Life is telling us something.”