Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Earth Day rant

My Twitter friend, Amy (AKA @UUatHome), recently posted a reflection about living green with small children. It's a familiar story, and a timely one as we approach another Earth Day. Most American adults living today have grown up hearing the messages of conservation and environmentalism. I was not quite twenty-one on April 22, 1970, a college student caught up in activism on multiple fronts. It seemed to me at that time that my generation, through the sheer force of numbers, would be able to alter the destructive course our culture was pursuing. Now in my sixties, I look around with a heavy heart and feel that we failed.

I covered this territory in an Earth Day post in 2008, when I was feeling more optimistic.

But the power of the environmental movement, for me, is that the personal level means something. There WAS something I could do; in fact there were lots of things. I could choose to live and work near public transportation. I could grow and cook my own food. I could have no more than two children. I could redefine the American Dream for myself and my family, and raise young adults who shared that dream. I could live and consume consciously, with open eyes.

Why so glum today? Let me list a few reasons: Van Jones being run out of the White House by a demagogue. BP oil spill. Japanese nuclear reactor. Fracking. GOP governors canceling high-speed rail projects. GOP House of Representatives trying to defund the EPA. A Democratic White House sending mixed messages about its commitment to the environment.

All the bicycling, recycling and freecycling in the world won't do a damn thing if those in power are determined to sell out humanity for personal gain. Lately I have been nursing a baby conspiracy theory of my own: they are all aliens, and they need to rebuild their spaceships so they can get out of dodge and rendezvous with the mothership. That's why they don't care about the damage they are doing; they won't be here to see it.

Seriously. All the green initiatives by individuals and communities and -- yes -- corporations won't amount to a hill of beans if we don't elect leaders who support environmentalism. Get out your checkbooks and your canvassing shoes, people. There's an election coming, and it's a big one.

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