Sunday, November 10, 2013

Earth and Sustainability

  1. One doesn’t like to quibble with the leading environmentalists of today, but this isn’t Eaarth.
    1. This is Earth. We get no other planet. To recognize it as our only chance, as the same familiar home we’re had for so long, is crucial. If there are answers, they are here, on Earth and within our own selves.
  2. “GEa + GEn ≤ GRa + GRn = The Sustainability Equation.” At a conference recently, a man from the International Appalachian Trail stood proudly before a slide with this information. “Oh,” I muttered, “that’s it? Now that it’s been made so simple, we’ll be able to save the planet by lunch.”
  3. We didn’t. I doubt such clean numbers and equations are real solutions.
  4. “Thousands Feared Dead After Typhoon Haiyan.” NPR headline, November 10, 2103. Thousands aren’t feared dead this morning, while I’m writing this with my sore heart and radio both turned up. Thousands are known dead. Wishing otherwise while waiting for facts we know will not change the reality. And no one should be surprised by these storms any more. Horror, pity, relief that it wasn’t your home this time, feel that. But do not insult yourself with pretending to be shocked anymore.
5.         First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.
—Martin Niemoller
Speak up. Act up. Don’t pretend you have no power to prevent disasters. And don't let anyone deny you that power or convince you that you have none. 

  1. As always, there are reports of local people heading to the site of this latest devastation, as if they were angels. Perhaps they are. But, they are not the only souls who can work against climatic destruction.
  2. Why is disaster clean-up both as altruistic as Mother Theresa and as sexy as Indiana Jones, but people trying to prevent such events are called hippies and weirdos who want to freeze to death in the dark, who hate jobs and the economy, who are out of touch Luddites?
  3. Is it too much to ask that we all use less?
  4. There are hundreds of disaster and emergency management graduate programs. I applaud their efforts. I cannot find a program in disaster prevention. We need to work on the root of the problem, the cause rather than just the effect.
  5. Is it too personal to look deeply for that root?
  6. At work, we go through reams of paper every week. As a member of the Sustainability Committee, I ask if we can demand that all paper be printed double-sided. My boss says that depends on how militant I want to be about “all this sustainability stuff.”
  7. It isn’t militant. It’s passionate.

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