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Will the Gulf wake people up? Taking care of the planet

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Wave of oil

Oceanic wave of oil

I’ve been one of those vilified “treehuggers” since my youth. I love the outdoors and being in the woods. That’s quite literally my cathedral. That is where I go to pray. Now I volunteer for a nature center as their social media coordinator and webmaster. My job requires me to monitor and pick up stories from all over the world, particularly here in the US, on all things environmental. Here’s some of the nasty stuff:

– Domestic bees are disappearing at an alarming rate which means the more than 130K crops that depend upon bee pollination are in trouble. No bees; no fruit or veggies or, in some cases, no grains. It’s a worldwide catastrophe that may in some part be due to Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds. The jury is still out. Nevertheless, some European countries have banned the seeds.

– Due to global warming, butterflies, particularly Monarchs, which used to migrate from the northwestern US to Mexico are now turning in their migration from northern Mexico back to the Louisiana shore. Mexico has become too hot.

– Images are available on NatGeo’s site of greasy, oil slicks not caused by the Exxon Valdez but near the oil drilling sites in Alaska. It’s not the huge environmental mess in Nigeria, but seeing oil slicks floating amongst the rocks here in the U.S. that has been going on for who knows how long is more than disturbing. These Alaskan slicks aren’t due to accidents. They’re due to industry laziness or stupidity or human negligence or who knows what. Yet, they exist and no one is cleaning them up. So, drill in the pristine arctic where already the permafrost has turned to mush? Give me a bloody break! That’s stupidity built upon stupidity.

– A recent report states that the US has cut down more forests than all of the Brazilian rainforest cuts. I guess someone forgot to mention the US forests are part of the same forest ecosystem as Brazil. But, hey, we wouldn’t want to endanger the profits of Weyerhaeuser would we by stopping clear cutting and preventing mountainsides from sliding downhill and killing off thousands of more species that depend upon old-growth forests. Heavens forbid!

– Every day hundred if not thousands of plant and animal special go extinct. The ecosystem cannot tolerate the loss of many more species before the entire system is irreparably disrupted. Every specie that goes extinct affects the ecosystem in unimaginable ways. The delicate balance is disrupted in ways that have economic, health and environmental consequences few of even imagine. As that old TV commercial said, “don’t mess with Mother Nature.”

– On the health side, asthma and other chronic breathing problems are at record high levels amongst children. And that’s not all. Many men are facing impotence due to chemicals in the environment…and there’s a significant rise in genetic gender defections (if that’s the right word).

– There is an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean between the Pacific current that’s probably larger than the Japanese Islands combined. Birds, whales, and other sea mammals have been eating this stuff and feeding it to their young. Full looking bellies of thousand of birds and a recently dead gray whales washed ashore in Seattle have been cut open to reveal stomachs full of plastic.

– The once frozen Northwest Passage of 16th C. fame is now open and up for grabs with many countries vying for rights of passage. The matter is before the UN to see which countries get rights to travel through the once frozen sea to the Pacific. Meanwhile, polar bears are dying of starvation and penguins in Antarctica are failing to reproduce at formally normal levels.

– As snowfall decreases in the Sierra Mountains, so does the amount of water needed by Southwestern states. California’s Imperial Valley was a desert until Sierra water turned it into a massive three-harvest vegetable garden, feeding the nation with cheap veggies. Now that water is disappearing as snowfall decreases – yet another result of global warming.

– Hurricanes feed off of dry land, winds building up speed and velocity as they enter the ocean. High speed winds feeding off the ever growing, deforested African desert cross the Atlantic Ocean with ever greater velocity, crashing into the American continent, creating ever greater havoc each hurricane season.

I could go on ad infinitum, but there is good news.

Young people – school kids, teenagers, and young adults – are taking it upon themselves to make changes that we older generations only argue and piss and moan about. They don’t like the world we’re leaving them so they are doing something about it.

These young people are not the Harvard MBA’s who think money is the answer to everything and who have their egos up their …well, some body parts can’t politely be stated.

These are kids who recognize the problems and are using their skills and talents to solve the urgent problems facing the world.

When I was a senior in high school, 16 yrs old, a union guy came to speak to my Civics class – I know an anomaly now – who said, (I’ll never forget the words)”We (meaning his generation) made the smoke stakes. It’s up to you to clean them up.”

We’ve done a shitty job of it so far.

We’ve been self-centered and egotistical and more concerned about our “image” (what will the Jones’ think?) than we have about living sustainably or sensibly. Humans are bloody stupid.

But we can be better.

Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children. – Ancient Indian Proverb

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect. – Chief Seattle, 1854

I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man. – Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

When our culture stops thinking about “me” and starts thinking about the world we leave to our seventh generation, then maybe there will be some hope for the planet and the human specie. If not, we’ll leave a world inhabitable except by the cockroach!

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Written by Valerie Curl

June 18, 2010 at 9:18 AM

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