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Looking out for Mother.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
March 28, 1998


Earth Fair, does it get any better than this? I don't think so. For the past eight years the people of San Diego have come together to celebrate their love for the planet that sustains them. San Diegans from all across the social strata make an annual pilgrimage to beautiful Balboa Park to be entertained and informed about what is happening in their community. In regards to environmental awareness, Earth Fair is the place to see and be seen in spring. Both educational and festive, this is a chance for people to feel good about themselves. But is this enough?

Not to throw a blanket on the party, but I must point out that most of us take the place we call home for granted. Our relationship with the environment is neglectful at best. Using the Earth Mother analogy, it is like we ignore mom all year but we make sure we throw her a fabulous birthday party on her Earth Day. And to make sure she knows how much she is loved we invite all the neighbors, who also neglected her, to celebrate and discuss how mom is looking more tired than usual. Then, feeling like we have done our time acknowledging "Mother" we go back to our "oh so important" routine of professed care and actual apathy.

Now I am certain that the majority of San Diegans mean well, and hope all will work out. But sorry folks that is not going to be enough.  There are some among us who have absolutely no consideration for "mom" and are actually doing everything in their power to prostitute her and leave her barren and broken on the side of the road. Where some of them actually believe they are doing no harm (e.g. County Supervisor Pam Slater), others show no remorse while plotting her downfall (e.g. County Supervisor Bill Horn.) And the shortsighted concept of property rights allows harmful decisions to be made.

Recently I had the odd pleasure of speaking to a female acquaintance of mine. I'm not sure I could consider her a friend, but we are definitely friendly. This woman is very republican, very pro-life, and very well meaning. What is strange is the fact that she seems to consider me a kindred spirit. Weird huh? I guess one out of three ain't bad. My friend gave me an armful of literature from right wing conservative groups because she wanted to warn me about the environmental movement. One of the leaflets was from a group calling itself ACCOUNTABILITY NOW! which included such statements as, "The Green movement is comprised of special interests groups that are twisting the issues, violating the public trust and working behind the scenes to change America." Could someone please explain to me how clean air and water, healthy soil, open space, and biodiversity is construed as a special interest? This amusing, if not scary, leaflet goes so far as to declare environmentalism as a front for the communist party. I remember being called a eco-facist once, but all you have to do is look at China's and the Soviet Union's environmental record to see that communism has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the environment.

So boys and girls, we are about to go into two years of serious politics and the other team is working up a lather at the planet's expense. The question is, "What are we going to do?". It is time we got involved beyond the point of enjoying Sunday in the park. Now don't get me wrong, I think the Earth fair is a great place to recharge your batteries while coming together with a community of like minded individuals. It is as such times that we have proof that we are not alone in our concern for planetary health. What I am suggesting is the realization that if we don't get active now we might find ourselves up creek without a paddle. Although, now that I think of it, I would say we lost the paddle years ago and that we are about to lose the boat.

If Western Culture is the Titanic, groups such as Greenpeace, The Sierra Club and EarthWorks are the crew members smart enough to realize that there is still time to start building life boats? It's time we assist them by either helping to build, or start bailing. Personally I am adding my efforts to the political conversation. It is important we get environmentalists elected to office. Policy should began to reflect sustainability, not profitability. Grassroot activism is now needed to make sure we don't loose our biological heritage beneath a wave of concrete and plastic. So now, with all that said, I would like to thank everybody for doing their part in helping to promote environmental awareness, thank you for participating in Earth Day activities, thank you for bringing earth sensibility into your life, and most importantly thank you for acting as if your choices matter. They do.

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