I may have missed something, but from what I saw, no one on my friends list seems to have mentioned Earth Day, so I guess I'd better come out of torpor and write a post after 5 months or so.
Things like "Earth Day", "Black History Month" and "National Poetry Month" (the subject of my next post) bother me because despite drawing some fleeting attention to their subjects, these kinds of events really allow us to continue to ignore the issues most of the time while feeling good about ourselves for having devoted a small amount of time to them in the past.
If the subjects of these events are important enough to bother with, then they should be an integral part of our lives and learning, not something we bring up once a year in schools and some media with little or no effect on most of the population. The history of black people in America *is* the history of America. We have cut too much of it out of the tattered rags of history as we know it, along with the contributions and issues of other ethnic groups that make up the United States, the truth about most of our wars, our leaders, and so much more. Much of what we pass on to our children is sanitized half truth at best, and even as adults the truth can be difficult to unearth or even recognize, so most people remain ignorant or badly misinformed. Can we really wonder why history continues to repeat itself?
Still, the entirety of human civilization is only a minor footnote in Earth's history book. We would be hard pressed to write the planet's epilogue, but we have the means and possibly the willful ignorance or insanity needed to not only end our own footnote, but to end this entire chapter. It is a terrible mistake to relegate the world a rank below even partially observed holidays like "Columbus Day" where we celebrate a brutal slave trading crusader, or (in this case rightly) ignore the whole thing. Just as our own health is the most vitally important issue for each of us, even if we choose to ignore it, until we have self-sustaining settlements elsewhere in the solar system and beyond, there is nothing more important than the health of the planet we live on. Nothing.
Almost everyone in the country knows about global warming by now, although a disturbingly large part of the population still doesn't want to do anything to prevent it, or doesn't think we need to. Even assuming that it is all lies and propaganda (which I don't believe), there are still many good reasons to try to reduce carbon emissions by beginning a serious push to quickly develop and move to alternative energy sources, not the least of which are our own health and wellbeing and our destructive and dangerous relationships with many other countries.
I am not talking about things like ethanol, which is renewable but still relatively dirty, I'm talking about things like hydrogen, solar, wind and the more advanced technologies which are still in development and probably in need of more funding. Perhaps we could have used the couple of *trillion* dollars that we've put into the war in Iraq to break our dependence on the region, probably having more than enough left over for programs that would really make us safer?
This may not seem important to you, especially if you see all insects as nothing more than pests, but bees are a very important part of the world. They are the primary or sole pollinators of a very large percentage of plants, including much of what we eat. It has yet to be put to the test, but Einstein thought that if the bees were gone, we would be gone in just 4 years. We may have the technology now to allow us to develop new genetically modified plants and animals in time to ensure the survival of our species in such an event, but ironically that kind of genetic modification of plants may in fact be the cause of these massive die-offs, possibly through the destruction of the bees' immune systems, but that is just speculation at this point.
Even on the level of speculation though, it is disturbing enough that many of us would probably like to see this and other possible causes investigated immediately by independent researchers who are not bought and paid for by the multi-billion dollar companies behind the genetically modified crops. Many more of us would be wary of eating that same recently modified and still unproven genetically modified food.
Next time you go to the grocery store, look at the food you're buying, and if you're worried about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), just don't buy things with a GMO label on them!
...what's that you say? There are no such labels? Wow... There are however a small minority of products with "No GMO" labels on them, and that may be the easier way to go considering that such a large percentage of our food, 45% of corn grown in the US in 2004 for example, is genetically modified.
GMOs *may* be completely safe for human consumption, or on the other extreme they may be slowly killing us. It is still not clear, and it may never be completely clear due to the difficulty in isolating genetically modified foods as the source of health problems or benefits. They are at least a proven danger to other plants, and possibly animals, including bees which are much more important to our food supply and the world's plant life in general than most people know.
There are some clear benefits to GMOs, although they are nearly all monetary benefits to the producers and not monetary or health benefits to the consumers, most of whom have no idea that they are eating genetically modified foods, and many of whom would not even know what that means. Few if any of us signed up to be experimented on with this, but it's likely that everyone reading this ate some type of GMO today, along with the author.
The point of this whole post has not been to scare you with GMOs which could be a legitimate threat or just a paper tiger, but to encourage you to think about the problems facing the world, particularly environmental problems, not just on one Earth Day but every day. While it's difficult for us to individually make a large impact on many of these issues, if we show interest in them and in environmental issues in general, they will receive more attention and resources and hopefully we as a nation and a world will reverse our course while there's still time.
I am sad to say that as much as I care, and as much as I would support major changes in the country and the world even if they made things harder for me, I have a hard time really trying to make a difference as an individual. I do recycle as much as I can, I try to keep the amount of waste I produce to a minimum, I do my best to avoid spreading poisons around (for myself and my pets as much as anything), and I support people and companies who try to preserve the environment where I can, but I know I use more electricity than I should, I don't take a very active role in encouraging government and other businesses to clean up their acts, and there are probably a lot of other things I could and should do that I don't do.
The Sword of Damocles is hanging over all of us, but most of us haven't looked up at it yet. It's time to open our eyes.
So, where *do* we go from here?
"It's only the taking that makes you what you are."
Ian Anderson - Wond'ring Again
Current Mood: nervous
Current Music: Wond'ring Again - Jethro Tull