If you’ve been following the news, you know that global warming is no longer considered a hoax.
Even if you haven’t been following the news, you can’t help but notice that our trees are being splintered by vicious and bizarre weather: the Halloween blizzard, the August hurricane, the June tornadoes, the weeks of rain followed by drought.
Trees are wise. They don’t kid around or pretend. They stand up against every kind of weather and, until recently, they never ended up splintered. I never thought I would walk through forests of broken trees—all smashed by global warming.
Today, the Guardian reported on a statistical analysis done at the University of Maryland that shows that
Please, take time and read the article; go ahead and download the PDF that reveals the study results.
I’m not interested in getting into the political dimension of Obama’s Republican approach to the environment, and I’ll tell you why. Any president who decides it is his/her job to save, or grow, the economy is going to destroy the earth; destroying the earth to make $$ is “normal” and has been so, in the West and then everywhere else, since 1776, when James Watts patented the steam engine and the Industrial Revolution began.
What I would like to point out is that the economy Obama is dedicated to saving is the economy of the 1%.
It is an economy that sucks 59 cents of every $1 you send to the IRS straight into the production and use of weapons of mass destruction.
It is an economy that is a rigged casino.
It is an economy that taxes you, but not Exxon or GE.
It is an economy that serves not you and your long term interest in living a healthy, long life; instead, it serves stockholders who care only about 1/4ly reports and margins of paper profit. It doesn’t care if you get cancer or diabetes after you consume its products. It doesn’t care if it destroys drinking water supplies, or paves the entire surface of the globe with hazardous waste (which is what pavement is classified as by the EPA).
It is an economy that hates you and your family, and every family on this planet. It hates fish and birds, and frogs. It hates trees. The Greeks called this malevolent force Pluto, the god of gold and death; in the New Testament it’s called Mammon. The turn I’ve just made to theology might sound wacked, but our politicians actually demand that we theologize our economy; they have made a god of the dollar bill, and demand our obeisance.
So, every time Obama makes a move to save this unsustainable and suicidal economy, he condemns us further. And, though I promised not to dip into the swill of politics, the fact is that most of the Republican presidential nominees want to abolish the EPA. I’m not sure that we are supposed to give him credit for this, but at least Obama doesn’t want to do that.
OK, I’ve depressed you. But these are facts I’ve presented, not conspiracy theories.
Allow me to conclude. Human history, beginning about 60,000 years ago when we were all African, has always been ecologically based. Ecology means study of the house: oikos “house, dwelling place, habitation” + -logia “study of.” We are not economically based, for economy is merely a way “managing” the “house” we live in. 3,000 years ago Greek story of Midas clarified this difference.
Our present moment is cataclysmic because we are at war with ecology. Our economy forces us to destroy the basis of our own lives. Our behavior is insane, because it dooms us, and it is immoral because we have no right to kill everything around us. If you’ve come this far, you might be recoiling at what you view as my self-righteousness—but it’s not mine; it’s Eisenhower’s:
As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
We are plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow, and our democracy is not surviving.
Our economy, the one Obama and the next president will do anything to save, is totally undemocratic and ecocidal: it’s the constant-war economy of the 1%.
No transformation of human culture has ever begun in the center of power. Even Watts’ steam engine arrived from the outside, and was not born in the halls of Buckingham Palace or the English Parliament.
Because we cannot expect any politician to do anything but “save the economy,” I urge you to practice environmental satyagraha. Don’t shop unless you have to, and when you do avoid strip malls and big box stores. Use less fuel and water. Support local merchants and food producers. Barter. Share. Learn how to grow food; learn how to make things. Prepare yourself for power outages, which seem to happen every month these days anyway. Imagine a life without cars, and try to live it.
The goal for our human species, if it is to survive with those qualities we identify as “civilized,” is to return to the ways and wisdom of our ancestors—who like Eisenhower would be wagging their fingers at us—and be ecological, not economical. Be not just citizens of temporary nation-states, but also and more importantly biocitizens, citizens of life.
Life: as we cling to this spinning rock in the cold darkness of the cosmos, it is the only thing that matters. And life is bios, not gold—this is the lesson of Midas, and of collapsing global capitalism.
We have entered the end of a history, of a phase of human evolution—the Industrial Revolution is over and, given its result as global warming, is a failure; but the end is a beginning. We should want our economy to die, so we can live. And our hope should come from our realization that a renaissance has already begun.