And it doesn’t look like I’m going to have them anytime soon. I can live for me, me, me, which means I can consume, consume, consume! Maybe I’ve got a good fifty years left on this planet, so should I be concerned with the condition I leave it in when I’m stardust? I’m not leaving any personally-birthed people behind. And yet somehow, I continue to wonder why it seems I’m more concerned with what’s happening with the environment than people who have children — I really, really don’t get why news items regarding the threats against breathable air and the dramatic rise of asthma and allergies in children don’t seem to strike a chord of even remote interest, let alone fear, in our gas-guzzling SUV-driven country. It’s truly baffling. Aren’t parents invested enough to at least research the plausibility and hazards of that term, “Global Warming“? These two little symptoms I mention are just the tip of the iceberg. For a brief display of the top ten global warming stories of 2006 that will affect your children’s lives, take a look at this.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming parents – maybe trying to incite a little, but I’m not pointing any real fingers. Everyone is responsible; we are a communal species that shares the same life-sustaining planet. So why won’t our government step up with the rest of the planet now and take action? Because our economy might take a hit? Perhaps it’s time we all learn to do with a little bit less, particularly those with vested interests in big business. “The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, produces between a fifth and a quarter of the world’s emissions, according to government data” 1. If you learned that you or your children were slowly being poisoned through the drinking water so that we would become ill in fifteen or twenty years, even dying as a result, I bet we would all be up in arms, demanding the U.S. government take action, locate the source of the poison, and eliminate the threat – immediately. We wouldn’t wait for a projected date of fifty more years for a possible fix. I’m no alarmist, but friends, this is not an outlandish possibility.
Why does the Bush administration continue to vote in favor of profit while dancing around — and then giving the finger to — first the Kyoto Protocol and now the G8 proposal? Is the rest of the world wrong, including Britain? Are we that pompous? Ignorant? Flagrant in our sense of superiority? Can we continue to blatantly share our poisons with the rest of the world, disregarding their effects, so that we might remain the top economical power? Do we care that our children will reap the hazards of our apathy?
After the last election, even Christian evangelicals felt betrayed by Bush, who seems to be truly faithful only to those whose stock reports papered his campaign trail. Now, the Christian right is teaming up with scientists, both groups tolerating their differences in beliefs for what they now see as a moral issue rather than a political one. And yet, Bush continues to play monetarily-motivated politics with the future health of this planet. Are we going to let him carry on? Will our next president return to business-as-usual after the campaign promises fade? Between the pressing matter of Iraq and the long-standing neglected cooker that is global warming, we can’t afford to sit around waiting for someone to take the reigns and guide us. One of the people who has been at the forefront of getting Christians and scientists to come together on the matter, E.O. Wilson, has a few things to say on the matter that might motivate you (FYI – population growth factors in heavily too). As you become more informed and gear up to get your political voice in tune, there are also things that can be done in the present and in the midst of your daily movements – some practical suggestions found here and here.
My grandfather was an entomologist, whose specialty was ants. Likewise, E. O. Wilson is too:
Say you’re president. What’s your environmental agenda?
New, sustainable energy generation, new forms of transportation, conservation of natural resources and general improvement of the quality of American life with a simultaneous reduction in per-capita consumption of energy and materials. The president who exercised that kind of leadership would ensure his or her legacy for all time.
Somehow that doesn’t seem likely from any president, let alone a Republican.
Last spring I was invited to speak at one of the leading conservative think tanks, and I asked two questions: What is the core of conservatism if it does not include conservation? And why have the conservatives needlessly and destructively abandoned the moral high ground on the issue? We had a lively discussion. They essentially said the liberals are blue sky, they’re big talkers and dreamers, whereas conservatives are problem-oriented, practical people who keep the wheels turning and the world on course. But they’re not solving this problem. Too often they don’t even admit that the problem exists.
If atheists and the God-fearing can get on board, why can’t the dreamers and conservatives find that same common ground? It’s high time we figured out how.
p.s. Water? Do you and your children actually need it?
“Also, fresh water is declining around the world, with many of the aquifers scheduled to give out in the next several decades. The forests, estuaries, coral reefs, river systems and, increasingly, even the oceans are being either destroyed or seriously degraded.
The experts on natural resources around the world are in pretty much complete agreement that the world population as a whole is running down arable land, and the trend shows no sign of being reversible.” –excerpt from Salon Interview with E.O. Wilson
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Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.