In the wake of Katrina many things are becoming perfectly obvious. It is obvious that we are going to have to pay attention to the more salient issues of disaster preparation, homeland security and the cronyism that perpetrated this debacle post-Katrina. My question is: Will we now start paying attention to some of the issues that, in the end, may allow us to continue on through eternity, or are we going to let our apathy and lack of attention to nurturing the environment that sustains us, in the end destroy us?
Call me an ecology freak or call me sensible with hopes for a future for the planet, but it is time to make a choice. In this “live for today, the hell with tomorrow” life most of us live, where having the big house, going to or sending our kids to the right schools, buying an occasional designer purse, a nice pair of Italian shoes and a BMW tend to satisfy; and where we view life as good if we have obtained as much for ourselves as possible in regard to the material, Katrina has made something painfully obvious. Katrina has made us aware that even here in America there are others not as fortunate. Never mind Africa, here at home we have “poor people.” That, in and of itself, should be a slap in the face to the ignorant majority. But let us go further and look at the disaster as a whole and its implications for the survival of our civilization as we know it. Katrina has hopefully helped make the need to expedite this scrutiny perfectly clear.
The ecological implications are clear in that we know that there were plans that had been shelved to shore up the levees, as well as plans that would have diverted water from Lake Pontchartrain. We know that the water in the Gulf has warmed by several degrees over the last century and that this is likely caused by global warming. We know that in the end our inability to pay attention to our own house because we are too busy at someone else’s house has in some ways made this disaster all the worse.
The time has come for us to choose to bring ourselves back to a time where we are at one with our environment and willing to sacrifice in order to ensure a future for our country, as well as our planet. As Jared Diamond, noted professor of geography at UCLA and Pulitzer Prize winner for Guns, Germs, and Steel, shows us quite simply in his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, we are going to need to make a decision here.
We need to look at what happens when we squander our natural resources and ignore the signals our environment gives us. We need to look at why some civilizations such as the Mayas, the Polynesians of Easter Island and the Vikings in Greenland disappeared off the face of the earth while other civilizations prospered: factors including ecological care, withstanding pressure from enemies, slowing population growth and taking care when choosing trade partners. He often extrapolates, but there is clarity in one thing, especially in the face of the tragedy that was Katrina and her aftermath: we need to make choices now.
My hope is that from this tragedy we will learn that we need to wake up and choose our government more carefully, and then keep an eye on it. I hope that, if nothing else, we will start looking at this earth we are on and what we can do to make sure that our civilization does not disappear due to sheer apathy and laziness.
Shall we choose to believe the pundits such as Mihkel M. Mathiesen in Global Warming in a Politically Correct Climate: How Truth Became Controversial , or do we believe the people not funded by Exxon like John Houghton Global Warming : The Complete Briefing ?
I think the way is pretty clear.