When I first started blogging I had in mind to do a weekly bit on the environment. I even got as far as giving it the catchy (to my ear anyway) title of Enemies of the Environment. Just jumps out and grabs you, doesn’t it?
I would pick some business or product to write about each week and point out all the ways it was harmful to health of the planet. After two weeks of this, it dawned on me that everything I was going to write about had one key element in common. It’s obvious, isn’t it? I mean, if George Bush can spot it why couldn’t I?
Oh well, as Hunter S. Thompson used to say iabout Hubert Humphrey: “Even a blind pig will find an acorn once in a while” So it is with our George. As he so succinctly admitted a week or so ago, humans cause pollution.
What’s the use of itemizing all the different ways in which we pollute the world if we’re not willing to step up and admit that, without us around, there would be none of the current worries about global warming, water pollution, air pollution, deforestation, loss of animal habitat and so on. Every single environmental problem on the face of the earth can easily be linked back to something we’ve done or are doing.
Sure, there have been attempts to deflect the blame to others. Ronald Regan referred to fallen leaves as pollutants. Since he also considered ketchup and relish to be vegetables, he’s probably not the most reliable of sources. But when you come right down to it, who else is there?
Who else pours goodness knows how many tons of carbon dioxide into the air from internal combustion engines, coal burning electrical plants, and the smokestacks of thousands of businesses world wide? Who else dumps massive amounts of raw sewage, chemicals, insecticides, fertilizers, and whatever else on hand into the rivers and oceans?
Is there any other creature on the face of the earth who wantonly destroys whole forests to create grazing land for a fast food company’s cattle? Does anybody know of one other species who will poison their own food supply by feeding herbivores growth hormones the brains of another animal?
What kind of a species are we that we think nothing of a company spending millions of dollars to invent pills that will make it easier for men to get an erection and women to increase their fertility when our population has become so huge that we are running out of room to put them all? Even our self-culling projects like war and genocide can’t keep up with our rate of reproduction.
Well, part of the answer is to be dreadfully selfish. When that is combined with being short sighted, impatient and greedy everything becomes easier to understand. All of our decisions are made on the premise of providing a quick bang for the buck with no thought of any long term consequences. Not only do we have no regard for any of the species we share the planet with, but we ignore the peril we leave for our future generations.
The impression I have (I’ve been known to be wrong before, but this time if I am it will make me feel good) is that every one of the world’s major religions condones this attitude, either by implication or directly. All the children of Adam and Eve were given dominion over the natural world. Most Christians, Muslims, and Jews have, over the years, taken this as carte blanche for doing what ever they want with the resources at hand.
While Buddha may have sat perfectly still out of reverence for all life and not wanted to risk treading on even one ant, the indifference practiced by those seeking reincarnation out of this plane amounts to benign neglect. What do you really care what happens here on earth if you’re trying to leave?
Take a careful look at a bonsai tree or a Zen garden sometime. If that isn’t a denial of nature’s spontaneity and wildness what is? The expression of domination comes in all shapes and sizes, but the end result is still the same. Destruction of all that isn’t human.
When man was just another species fighting for survival alongside everyone else, we considered ourselves no better or worse than those we depended on for existence. Whether hunter-gatherers or farming communities. the impact we effected on the world was reflected in the laws governing society. Who was hunted and how planting was done were controlled by the need to ensure the requirements of tomorrow’s generations, as well as the present.
Fields were allowed to go fallow so that soil could regenerate. Certain animals were not hunted during their breeding seasons and pregnant females were spared to ensure continuation of the food supply. The relationship between man and nature was considered a partnership. The latter provided us with the means of survival so we treated her with respect and honour.
With each advancement in science, with each step on the road of civilization, we have distanced ourselves from the means of obtaining food and living in partnership with world around us. The words “a boon for all mankind” have become five of the most dangerous words in their connotations for every other species.
When have we ever considered the effect of our actions on the rest of the world’s life forms? Hell, some of the time we don’t even stop to consider their effect on ourselves. Many pharmaceutical companies rush drugs onto the market without considering complications that can occur even five years down the road. How can they, without waiting to see what happens to someone who takes it for five years?
Hypothesis, precedent, and good intentions can only guarantee so much before it all becomes guess work. It’s probably expecting too much of a species that doesn’t even care enough about itself to demand safety measures for it’s own good to care about those they feel superior to.
Each new “boon” comes with a price. Usually it revolves around what we do with the waste once we are done with it. Nuclear energy, p.c.b.s used as coolants, mercury used in the manufacturing of paper, and pesticides all hang around long after they’ve done their job in one form of another.
Our world is only so big, it can only take being treated with no consideration for so long. I’m not suggesting a return to the Stone Age, or giving up on our technology, but we have to stop thinking of ourselves only. We need to remember that no matter how far we travel in our technological advances we are still dependant on the good health of the world we live in.
Food, water, and oxygen have not changed all that much from 10,000 years ago. only the way we treat it. If we want to keep enjoying them maybe we should start considering what boons we can grant them.