Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Big Question

Photo from NASA via NatGeo

I suppose every generation believes two things about itself:

1) It is the culmination of all generations preceding it, and

2) It will be the last generation on this planet.

I'm not sure why humanity has this fatalistic obsession with finality. Perhaps it is our mortality. Perhaps we just don't want to miss the parties that will take place after we're gone. Or perhaps we truly are that monstrously egoistic that we believe nothing and no one could possibly top us.

Like the one immediately preceding this, our generation has the option to end things. Unlike the generation before this, we have the awareness that things actually can end and without a mushroom cloud.

This week, today, we celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day, like Christmas, is the one day every year people get to remind themselves that they should behave nicely. And others. Nevermind that the other 364 days, most will likely litter to their hearts' content, today, people will take the extra two steps to the trash can.

Yippee! Now, what will we do tomorrow?

I've been involved in environmental concerns since the early 70s, since I was a Boy Scout and involved in setting up the first recycling program in NYC. It was fun. It felt good. As nasty as some of the things we had to do were, like cleaning up an empty lot that had turned into a dog run for the neighborhood, somehow we managed to have a sense of satisfaction from it.

Mother Earth is sick. She's running a fever and all kinds of toxins are rampant in her veins and arteries. And it's our fault. If you want an idea of just how painful birthing the race of man has been for her, I suggest you watch the series Life After People. Watch how the remnants of our civilization crumble as no one is around to maintain them.

The Second Law Of Thermodynamics in action. Entropy is the natural state of things. It is only man in his hubris that tries to circumvent the law as if it was a speed limit and we were in a hurry to go nowhere.

I'm not suggesting a Ludditic existence, or that we abandon clothing and housing and live off the land in caves. What I am suggesting is that each of us can slow down a little. Drive 55 instead of 65, even if the speed limit allows. Walk more. Buy local produce when possible. Wash clothes only when the laundry bag is full. Wash dishes by hand or only when the washer is full.

Buy a water bottle instead of bottled water. Use a canvas bag.

The list goes on and on of ways to cut back even just a little without inconveniencing yourself too much.

And this is a good time to practice these habits, in a time when belts are being tightened anyway, since many of these practices will save you money on your energy costs.

We only get this one Mother Earth, despite what astronomers are discovering daily it seems. She's sick. She needs our help.

She's provided for and carried you for all your life. Give a little bit back, please.