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Some things just aren't funny

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
February 2, 2005

 

"Ecological devastation is the excrement, so to speak, of man's power worship." — Ernest Becker

I often meet with regional politicos over cocktails. Always an opportunity to advocate environmental responsibility, tree-huggers such as myself enjoy mixing it up with those who view ecologically based activists as misguided or criminally insane. Such proximity requires "Greenies" to navigate a gauntlet of slings and arrows, slipped casually into conversation. The greatest misfortune is the number of those offering education through miseducation.

Bravado, arrogance, ignorance, and contempt are but a few motivations behind the typical environmental denunciation. Avarice and Greed is always a contributing factor.

Not long ago, while trying to educate a few Republican types of the importance of maintaining Californian forests, I was confronted with such glaring idiocy I was forced to take a few evolutionary steps backwards to process what was being said. Like Hyenas on fresh kill, these otherwise agreeable men decided logging giant sequoias in the name of fire suppression was something to joke about. One fellow, choking on his vodka, cracked himself up with the observation "Tall trees are old trees, and about to die anyway."

Visions of Logan's Run came to mind, yet all I could do was lament on my trouble with dinosaurs, and hope for a meteor.

Prompting this observation from the edge was my inability to move beyond the cavalier attitude of my associates. Undisturbed by news of federal policy circumventing California state law, these jokers couldn't care less about the ecological quality of life in California. Twenty-four hours later, it hit me, their laughter, a form of gallows humor, employed environmental disregard to mask their tacit compliance.

So much for blue skies.

Living in Southern California it's easy to distance yourself from ecological reality. Graced with clear skies and winter sunshine, "profit-before-people" people see no reason to question their good fortune. Sacrificing critical thought to the smug belief that all is right with the world, these folks laughingly reject anyone challenging the wisdom of anthropocentric capitalism. It's kind of sad. Tragic really.

Here in the land of surf and sun, we sit in traffic, surf in sewage, and pray for rain every day. Living on the edge, millions of Californians depend on a tenuous ecological balance for their very survival. How long can we avoid ecological reality and environmental responsibility? How soon before paradise is too poisoned to persuade?

In an ideal world biological stewardship would be taught in school along with reading and arithmetic. Until ecological wisdom is considered vital to collective governance, concerned citizens will shoulder the weight of environmental stewardship. Protecting corporate interests, elected representative can only be counted on to hinder anything promoting biocentrism and challenging the status quo.

Perhaps my associates weren't laughing at the systematic deforestation of North America. Perhaps they were taunting the messenger merely to distance themselves from the truth and the inevitability of the ecocide the casually encourage.

Instead of promoting quality of life through environmental preservation, the mandate of the current federal government will be to dismantle any barriers to corporate utilitarianism. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to control guns, but not the timber industry. And Arnold just wants to be president. Congressmen Randy Duke Cunningham, Daryl Issa, and Duncan Hunter are too busy playing war hawk to notice the diminishing quality of life in the regions they supposedly represent.

The Administration of George W. Bush will do nothing to protect the ecological health of Southern California. Expecting big government to protect the common good is utter folly, and a luxury we can no longer afford.

If there is hope, it is at the local level. Municipal leaders are the folks making the decisions that affect our daily lives. Local leaders are the only ones that can protect regional agriculture, water quality, and biodiversity. For example, it is the diligence of city officials such as Julie Nygaard, Joe Killijian and Jerome Stocks, bringing comprehensive mass transit to the residents of North San Diego County.

We the people of San Diego County are directly responsible for our municipal leaders. We have no one to blame but ourselves if environmental sustainability is not taken seriously. We have no one to blame but ourselves if our future is traded away for big box convenience, dirty surf, and an unending traffic nightmare.

We have no one to blame but ourselves if future generations curse us when there is nothing left too laugh at.

 
 
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