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Environmental demise and the power of one

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
May 29, 2001


"The basic problem in American society is that it's a rights society, not a responsibility society. What you've got is each individual saying: "I have the right to do this." — Vine DeLoria Jr.

Recently California's supposed power crisis has begun to piss me off in an epic sort of way. Yes, I know Californians are being victimized by the greedy bastards who put George W. Bush in the White House. But that was only made possible by the short-sighted officials we set loose in Sacramento, who allowed those same greedy bastards to convince them that deregulation was in everyone's best interest. Completing this unholy alliance are Californians themselves who quietly acquiesced to the corporate take over of the utilities.

Last week George W. spent less than two hours at Camp Pendleton, safe behind the military, in a feeble attempt to show he cares about the people of California. Unwilling to expose himself to the angry masses, he spoke only to those that must follow his orders. An insult if ever there was one, military personnel there to hear him speak were searched for weapons. Talk about paranoid, obviously George has no idea what Semper fi means.

As spokesperson for the San Diego Greens, I was asked to make a statement in regards to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC), price caps, and the federal response to the gouging of California's energy consumers. Arriving early I was told that the protest would take place on a city street nowhere near the location where George II would be sharing his mangled sound bites.

In other words protesters would be allowed to scream at the freeway, and a collection of Oceanside police officers, neither of which had anything to do with the issues at hand. All I could do was feel sorry for those who took the day off work to stage a protest, which was little more than political masturbation. Sorry folks, but free speech is not free speech when the guys with guns define when and where you can voice your opposition. Of course I left.

Personally I have come to the conclusion that Californians use to much energy. We act as if the planet is an all you can eat buffet, and it is our right to gorge ourselves into a coma, at a bargain rate. Cultures all over the world, for as long as human history has been documented, have survived on a fraction of the energy we take for granted. Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel without a light bulb, yet John Q. Public can't go to the bathroom without turning on a light. Hello!

Rights without responsibility are hardly sustainable. Marie Antoinette is the perfect example of an individual who believed she had a right to everything. And we all know how that little drama played out. History is littered with civilizations which failed to take responsibility for their impact on natural systems, and in turn failed from this biological disconnect.

Humans have the right to prosper, you will get no argument here. They also have the right to commit mass suicide. Again no argument. But they do not have the right to exploit other species for their own comfort and convenience. Nor do we have the right to take biospheric ecosystems down with us.

If we are truly an highly evolved primate species, something I question with every breath, why have we not made the connection between responsibility and survival. Here in Southern California people whine about lack of electricity but allow for more homes to be built. Same goes for water, space, jobs, and justice, yet we continue to add to the problem. Such thinking would suggest the Titanic would still be with us if only it could have out grown the iceberg.

It is time Californians learn to live with less. Why not encourage responsibility in our culture in a way that rewards conservation. Instead of everyone having their own personal sound system why not return to a time when members of a community gathered to make their own music. Conversation is easiest when done outdoors without a barrage of modern conveniences separating neighbors from each other.

Our relationship with machines is not only taking an environmental toll, it is also costing us dearly in regards to interpersonal relating. Couch potatoes need only a electric box for companionship, the cost of which is seen every time a kid turns a gun on his schoolmates.

Come to think of it, rolling blackouts are nothing more than a respite from the corporate rat race we are all forced to endure. I hope they last.

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