Because extinction shouldn't be an option!

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Format Proposal and Why We Need to Start Getting Personal

I was thinking it's time to actually adapt a format for the blog. Right now, I am mostly picking a topic every week or so I care about. I still think it would be good to offer a long-form essay on specific issues I care to wax polemic about, but I think what I also would like is to offer a fly-by commentary on the week in the news. This blog is about sustainability, social justice and scraping by as a scribe. So I think offering a bit about each piece every week would work well.

One of the most harrowing pieces of news that came through the pipeline this week, was that old-style coal plants are expanding. That's right, the sooty smoke-stack, cancer-causing coal plants that huff black smoke. Coal is the dirtiest of all the types of energy we use, it is the worst for our health. In addition to packing the biggest climate change punch due to it containing the highest level of carbon dioxide as compared to oil or natural gas, coal is also chock-full of toxic heavy metals like mercury. Oh yeah, and the way we get most of that is by blowing the head off mountains, not only raping ancient and beautiful lanscapes, massacring fish and birds, but even destroying communities. The people in the small towns scattered across the Appalachian region (where mountain-removal, also known as "MTR," is occuring) experience increased risk of diseases like cancer, bronchitis and Crohn's disease--as do their children. Or, sometimes a child is crushed to death in his bed by a stray boulder--in this case his name was Jeremy Davidson. This seems to make us all mad, doesn't it? Maybe our eyes even well up with tears, or we tremble...but what do we do then? Where is that sense of empatheic injustice that runs so deep we can actually make the effort to stand up and walk over to our local town hall meeting?

Seriously, if the Tea Party movement folks can be prompted by paranoid fears of Obama being a non-native Muslim to shuffle over to town halls and picket outside the politician's office and upset elections--what in God's name is wrong with those of us on the other side who supposedly care about things like MTR and climate change that we simply sit still and spit out some sad words? Seriously, what is wrong with us? Words are useless without an audience--and not just of your close-knit sympathizers. We so-called socially concerned environmentalists should take a lesson from the Tea Party. And I am putting out a challenge to my fellow people in Massachusetts: if you haven't at least called Tea Party darling Scott Brown's office to complain about his horrid positions on clean energy, climate change, poverty relief, and even gay rights--you're part of the blame for his policies going national. Maybe a small part, but an important part nonetheless...and one that is on equal ground with those who propelled him to his position of power.

Other news this week was that climate refugees
are becoming more and more of a reality as record floods hit Pakistan and Moscow suffers from unprecedented heat waves and related fores fires. Also, of course, there were continuing reports of BP covering up how much oil is still saturating the Gulf.

It's easy to tune these things out. I understand it because I do it myself sometimes. Unfortunately, these things don't go away. Not only that, they will find their way to us one day, and wreak havoc in our own small worlds in ways we can only imagine. Which is why we need to start understanding the importance of the personal--no amount of my blogging here, or tweeting, or posting on Facebook, is going to supplant the need for people calling their Congress people or visiting their offices if they want change. Otherwise, we are just as much a part of the problem as those who elect backwards-looking politicians who spread prejudice and preach with money. And when the worst of our inaction comes to claim us, AND our children, make no mistake that we are just as much to blame.

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