Notes on Earth Day 2009: Turning the Global Economy Upside-Down

It has been 39 years since Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) planted the seeds of environmental consciousness in what would now be Earth Day.  There has been a much greater global awareness of ecology since those heady times. However, after all has been said and done and the current global situation is assessed, we are really no closer to achieving the kind of economic and ecological balance necessary to, in a phrase, save this planet from ourselves.


There’s no need to deny it.  After searching information on whether or not air quality in the world has improved, preliminary findings indicate that there are no reliable and easily-understandable figures, anywhere in the world.  This implies one of two things: Either 1) No one has really cared enough to take stock of all of this data or 2) No one really gives a bloody damn.


It’s not for lack of trying.  People might care, but can only pay lip service; for the common working man or woman, this is not due to weakness, more to human limitation.  One can only recycle so much, take alternative routes to work, and so forth.  Unfortunately, not everyone in the world (or even Los Angeles) can take that path.  So we look at our politicians next.  Then we can see now, there are only so many conscientious politicians who can draft eco-friendly bills.  Passing muster is one thing, but enforcing them is another.  Does that mean all politicians who vote against such drafts are necessarily anti-environmentalist.  No, not necessarily.  What they do is simply look out for their own constituents, who are not always business interests.  With businesses, there are many who are rightly responsible for all this mess.  Again, not all of them are necessarily evil.  For every shifty-eyed business-owner, there are about a hundred more who are looking to make an honest living, just like any person on the street.  But we’re getting closer.


The main problem is that our civilization is still deeply entrenched in the Industrial Revolution, the 9-to-5 grind, the incessant need to earn a living and working jobs that require that we all (most of us, anyway) wake up at the same time, hit traffic at the same time, work (or idle) the same hours, eat at the same lunch time, then leave work at the same time.  These are the same rituals we go through every single day, and though it bothers us to varying degree, we think of it as nothing more than an afterthought.  But multiply all that smog in the air, all the energy used up, and everything used up and consumed by… a few hundred, a few thousand, a few million.  Every single day, nonstop, year in and year out.


You see the picture?


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