Last year on Earth Day I was hobbling in the March for Science in Colorado Springs with my friend, Lois and her son, Mark and a few other people. It was a blustery day. I made these posters in honor of my dad who was a scientist — a mathematician — in Colorado Springs, at NORAD. I thought they were awesome and they pulled on my heartstrings, but most people had no idea what that ruler was.
The march had speakers and Antifa and law enforcement and a lot of oldsters — old hippies, old teachers, and old whatever I am. There were many young families with great kids. There was even a mathematician. I think he and his sign would have delighted my dad.
This year, obviously, with my messed up hip, I’m not partaking, but I probably wouldn’t partake anyway. I’ve never been an activist probably because I don’t like crowds of people. I’ve marched twice in my life. The first Earth Day and Earth Day last year. Many people disagree with me, believing marches accomplish a lot, and that’s OK. They get to have the parking place I’m not using. 😉
The way I see it, without a functioning planet, it really doesn’t matter what else is going on. I think it was Wendell Berry who wrote something like, “The smallest unit necessary for the survival of humanity is the Universe.”
Right now, a mile as the crow flies from the Great Sand Dunes National park, there is a drama playing out. The BLM wants to auction leases for drilling (fracking?). Those who support this argue there is a mountain range between the proposed drilling area and the Sand Dunes. Those of us who have a brain understand that a mile is a human construction and it’s all one place as far as the ground is concerned. You can learn more about this here. If you’re so moved, please write your Congress people.
The Great Sand Dunes has been identified as America’s quietest national park. The night sky there is unbelievable to people who are not used to such profound darkness (and starlight). The water that flows from the Medano Glacier every spring is crystal clear and ice cold. It is the (almost free) playground of the people who live in my valley. When I was last there, in October, on a blustery day with a cold wind and the threat of snow, there were tourists from all over the world. It’s a unique and beautiful wild place.
The human factor here is that the county in which this would take place is one of the poorest in the US with some of the highest rates of opioid addiction. Some theorize that the jobs the drilling would bring to the area would be good for the people and help solve some of its worst problems. I honestly don’t think so.
That’s the tension that confronts us all the time. People need things NOW — and I mean NEED not WANT. Back in the 1980s China justified its rape of the environment by saying, “We’re an underdeveloped country. You can’t expect us to follow rules we don’t have the technology for and that will keep us from catching up with the rest of the world.” They had a point. I got it. I’d lived there and I’d seen a highway being built by women with small hammers breaking concrete. I knew the condition of Chinese sanitation and of their drinking water (boil it first). Hepatitus was almost endemic. I’d been to factories on Chinese communes that were, essentially, in people’s living rooms. I’d (routinely) ridden a bicycle 20 miles RT to buy food. It was really a hard way to live. Should they have had to STAY at that point for the good of the Earth? That was the question. It’s huge.
If I’d been making the decision, I’d haved moved forward with what was working — and bicycles were working as was their shambling public transportation system. I’d have stuck with the bikes and built up (as they did) their public transportation. But people wanted cars and freeways. These days, many Chinese have two cars and traffic in Beijing makes California’s fabled 405 freeway through LA look like quiet country road.
Now that they CAN do something, they are, but they have to fix everything they broke. That’s complicated. Every bit of environmental irresponsibility sets off a chain of disasters. When I lived in China there was almost no smog because there were very few cars and industry was small. Thirty years later, China has had to contend with some of the most dangerous smog the world has ever known. Beyond air quality for current breathers, is the effect of that air on the atmosphere over a period of years.
Back in the 1950s, Chairman Mao had the idea that China could move forward (The Great Leap Forward) if people started making steel in their backyards. Seriously. OK that sounds nuts, but people did. He also had the idea that since birds eat seeds, an all out war on sparrows could not happen too soon. People killed birds. The result of these two dubious programs was a lot of crappy steel (and less fuel for cooking and real industry) and crops overrun by caterpillars. People went hungry. Yeah.
But he made the point that individual people doing their small parts can make big changes.