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Published: March 16th 2005
Just Another Paper Mill
Any connection between industrialization and global warming is purely coincidental.
I was brainwashed by Ranger Rick.
May the good earth compost that flea-bitten raccoon, star of his own magazine, and his posse of sea otters, desert tortoises and mockingbirds, monthly doling out their environmentalist propaganda to impressionable, young children.
Oh yes, the school libarian hooked me one copy at a time, giving me the surplus issues from the year of my birth, 1974. Soon, oh so soon, I was caught up in the joys of water conservation and care for the earth. I was the first kid on the block to bug his dad for a recycling bin. I bought into everything Ranger Rick, that field-hat-wearing buddy to Smokey the Bear, had to say,
"Only you can prevent forest fires," Smokey admonished, to which Ranger Rick added, "Only you can contain litter!"
"Oh Dad," I pleaded in ecologically aware zeal, ''Don't throw that bottle away, we can recycle it!"
Let's conserve energy! Let's compost! Let's reduce, reuse, recycle! Then it was because I needed to attempt, however futilely, to satisfy an environmentalist messianic complex to ''Save the Earth!'' Yet now I can see that such a conviction to "Save the Earth'' is based upon a flawed, Enlightenment conception of ''Man'' (not “Woman”) as separate from ''Nature.'' Every time we set aside a nature preserve we absolve ourselves of the responsibility to preserve the nature in our own backyards, let alone within ourselves. We go to a park to "see nature," and then return to our homes, which are by implication ''unnatural."
Our interstates, convenience stores and air conditioning obscure ourselves from the fact that we are inextricably linked to the Earth, and the Earth to us. We do not litter nature with our styrofoam cups and plastic shopping bags, our cups and bags and convenience stores are nature, a part of the Earth, molded and shaped to quell our human desires, however shortsighted. With every bite and breath we reaffirm and demonstrate our connection to the Earth. However technologically advanced, humanity has yet to extract itself from its dependency upon the Earth for life.
In one of the oldest books, literally entitled ''In the beginning,'' but better known by the Greek, "Genesis,'' God grants to humanity "dominion over nature." Just as ants, beavers and coral invertebrates have the ability to mold the world to their needs, so to does humanity. But unlike the rest of creation, limited to affecting its immediate surroundings, humanity in our toolmaking sentience has the capacity to shape and destroy the entire world. With dominion and sentience comes responsibility, no more so than the responsibility to act in awareness of the consequences of our actions.
How many of us, like our ancestors, have had to go to the effort of actually chopping down a tree and building a chair? I sit in a chair crafted in Scandinavia, at a desk owned by at least two generations of my family, and made in America from an unknown number of oak trees of indeterminate origin. I sip my African coffee in a coffee cup of indeterminate origin, brewed in a plastic coffee maker made in China from petroleum that almost certainly was not drilled in China itself. I write at a computer that proudly bore the label, “Designed in Cupertino, California,” but was assembled in Asia with components from around the world. (My shirt? U.S. Navy issue, from the lowest bidding supplier. My sweatpants? Actually my fiancee’s. My wool socks were knit in Colorado, but where the sheep grazed, I have no clue.)
Even if I have not travelled to the four corners of the world, my possessions have. Untold resources were expended to transport my possessions across the world to me. I have supported through my purchases a chair factory in Scandinavia, and thereby a logger (probably) somewhere in Europe, a coffee cooperative in Tanzania, along with the shipping line that transported my coffee and the Trader Joe’s grocery store where I purchased my coffee. Chinese factory workers fed themselves in part with the money I paid for my coffee grinder and coffee maker, and somewhere in Asia an oil pump extracted a few ounces of petroleum from our Earth to provide the raw materials for my plastic possessions, while the Chinese factories more than likely used electricity generated at power stations burning cheap, dirty coal. My actions are not limited to my immediate home or land, but reach around the globe.
Ranger Rick, bless his fictitious racoon heart, opened my eyes to the wonder and intricacies of our world. It is up to me to choose how I will responsibly use the resources of the Earth entrusted to me. Will I choose to defoul the Earth in a childish fit of consumerist joy, or will I choose to cultivate and cherish the Earth as a gift that has been passed down to me from prior generations and should be passed onto many more?
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