Wednesday, June 25, 2008
It would be nice to think much of the ugliness is coming to an end.
It would be lovely to imagine the era of brutal Earth-mauling technologies, coal extraction and petroleum and industrial agriculture and strip mining and clear cutting and industrial fishing and all rest, all the more rapacious and unforgiving notions of how we exist on this planet are, after an era of unchecked capitalistic greed and waste and over-consumption right along with almost zero concern for consequences and the ethics of sustainability, finally moving toward obsolescence — or rather, are quickly being shoved there by sheer necessity, brutal market forces, as supply runs dry and oil production slows and the Earth groans and spits and says, “enough already.”
It is a pivotal time, and now more than ever, you get to choose the lens through which you want to watch it all unfold. Or implode.
Choose your lens! And pick your frame!
For every bit of good news, bad seems to top it like a dirt clod on an ice cream cone. More than 10 years ago, we banned CFCs and as a result, the ozone hole is actually healing, which could theoretically help slow global warming. Then again, as the ice shelves melt, more trees grow, which, given the circumstances, might actually make things worse by reducing the albedo effect.
On it goes. Flooding in the Midwest has severely damaged corn and soy crops, further straining the food supply and washing tons of pesticides into the water table. Meanwhile, California is in drought, wildfires are spreading like, well, wildfire as the state endures its driest spring ever.
It’s tempting to see it as one vicious tug of war, eternal dark forces pitted against eternal light, exemplified by, say, Big Oil CEOs on one side and hemp-loving biodiesel hippies on the other, a grand footrace to see if our rapacious capitalistic appetites will destroy us before our finer reason and good conscience saves us in the final minute.
Far harder to swallow the reality, which is far more gray and murky and strange. Because of course there is no 100-percent perfect energy source, no such thing as zero pollution, no magic bullet, no way to move through God’s wicked workshop without breaking a few glasses and swiping some gumballs and leaving skid marks on the lawn. Maybe the real question isn’t which lens to choose, but rather, do we even know how to see?