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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
November 15, 1999


"The future is a war." — Excene Cervenka

In today's hyper-homogenized media environment anyone who raises their voice in protest, dares to step on a few toes, or questions the status quo is either vilified or benignly ignored by the press. If by chance you disagree with those seeking to develop every last piece of open space you can expect a target to be placed in the middle of your forehead, as soon as you voice your opposition. To quote Excene Cervenka, "The future is a war."

In Northern California, environmentalists are having their eyes doused with pepper spray and trees dropped on them, In central California bombs are being placed in the cars of activists, and here in Southern California those working towards a sustainable environment can expect their lynching to come via the print media. Why would people expose themselves to such adversity, when it's just as easy to follow blindly the call to consume at all costs? That question can be summed up with two word, environmental ethics.

Of course environmentalists are angry, and yes they are taking drastic measures. Working within the system will not save the trees, or oceans, or coastal sage scrub, because the system is flawed. From the very beginning America has thrived in spite of the environment. Under the guise of democracy, capitalists have nearly deforested the entire continent, dammed rivers, filled wetlands, and extracted all we can from the earth. Pushing species to extinction for things as trivial as hats. And continue to do so.

Unwilling to ignore the rape of the planet for limited short term profit, the new American revolutionaries are demanding to be heard. Julia "Butterfly" Hill has been sitting in a tree since December 10, 1997, her reason? "Here I can be the voice and face of this tree, and for the whole forest that can't speak for itself," From 180 feet above the ground in an ancient redwood tree named Luna, Julia Hill is fielding international calls. This is what it takes to get the media's attention.

Elsewhere in the forest, activists are chaining themselves to trees, while others lock down in the middle of logging roads. Why? Because without anyone to call attention to the reckless harvesting of entire ecosystems, nothing would be left standing. When I was in High School the statistic was that only 4% of America's old growth forests remained. Eighteen years later, only three percent still stand, and that is guaranteed to shrink even more due to indifference and greed.

Judi Bari, a revolutionary, in the true sense of the word, was targeted by the logging industry. Receiving multiple death threats as she organized college students from around the country, Judy was what they feared most, a woman armed with the truth and backed by an army of young people not content to inherit a diminished world. Judy was making a difference and the establishment knew it. On May 24, 1990, in Oakland California, a bomb tore apart her car and her pelvic region. Even as she struggled to survive, she was placed under arrest, and labeled an "Eco-terrorist." Refusing to investigate, the FBI and the Oakland Police chose not to link previous threats on her life to the bombing. Saying that she and another activist were the only suspects. Undaunted by corrupt authorities, and her now debilitated body, Ms. Bari continued her fight to save the redwoods until breast cancer claimed her life in 1997. Who says America lacks heroes?

Here in Southern California we have yet to witness such environmental activism, but it is coming. Here we have been swayed by consumerism and lulled in to apathetic resignation by convenience and incredible weather. But how long will that last? Granted we have no majestic Redwoods to save, but are we willing sit by why the California Gnatcatcher goes extinct due to development? How about the Least Bell's Vireo, or the Arroyo Toad? If something isn't done soon this will be our legacy. And for what? A Starbucks on every corner and roads that connect one indiscernible community after another.

I too am an environmentalist. Shaping every fiber of my life, including my writing, this calling is not one of ego or political gain, but of genuine concern for the continued survival of Earths entire biotic community. And in particular, all other species BEFORE humans. Misanthropic you say? Accommodation is closer to the point. Considering that the majority of human activity is based on suicidal tendencies, trying to save humans from themselves would be counter productive.

Since it took a revolution to create this country, it only makes sense that it will take a revolution to save it. EarthFirst is more than just a catch phrase, it is a philosophy that we must all adopt if we are to survive another hundred years. Excuse the pessimism, but a war on the environment leaves us all refuges. This is no longer acceptable.

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