Friday, June 3, 2011

SLAP! We're Dumber Than Chimps

Be careful, I'm starting early...

“Because I could not stop for Death,
he kindly stopped for me…”
-Emily Dickinson

So begins a poem about inevitability, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Certain things are absolute and inviolable no matter how many ways we invent to describe our way out of responsibility for them.

Our world has to wake up and recognize the arrogance and callousness with which we live.  Jane Goodall, scientist and Wonder Woman, who is one of my personal heroes and should be one of yours too, has said in regards to humans: 

“…how come this most intellectual being, as far as we know, to ever have walked on this planet is destroying its only home?

No other animal on this planet destroys it’s own habitat.  No other species lives in COMBAT with it’s home.  Fish aren’t killing oceans, chimps aren’t destroying forests, and elk aren’t taking the tops off mountains.

“Think of what we’ve done. Think of our technology. We’ve gone to the moon. We’ve got little robots running around Mars. I mean, it’s extraordinary what we’ve done. So how come this most intellectual being, as far as we know, to ever have walked on this planet is destroying its only home?”

I’m not sure how we decided that buying “carbon or pollution credits” could offset our pollution issues; I’m not sure when it became a valid course of rational action for companies to trade amongst themselves the amount of garbage they get to dump…  Adults with prestigious college educations, brains and abilities to spare, have convinced us all that an ever growing “certain amount” of waste is okay. 

Gone is the notion that you take some and leave some…and I don’t know what needs to happen for a collective consciousness shift. It is virtually impossible to convince someone that their way of thinking is wrong when their fat wallet depends on it. Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, meat at every meal and snack, deep sea bass, kiwi in the winter in Wisconsin…we need it all, we’re entitled to it all and we DEMAND IT, consequences be damned.  That’s someone else’s problem right? 

After all, by the time it gets really bad our technology will catch up and we’ll figure out a solution. But here’s the deal pals:  “Since the Industrial Revolution, our human impact on the planet, our greenhouse gas emissions, our reckless damage to the natural world, our continual growth of our populations, they have had a tremendously damaging effect, which has led to the sixth great extinction” -Goodall

The sixth great extinction since the beginning of time!  Because 99% of all life on the planet since the planet’s birth is GONE.  Gone…I believe it’s catching up to us NOW.  And the problem isn't "natural".

According to David Jablonski, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago, in an article published by Fox News, "...a lot of the problems probably have a lot more to do with politics than with science."

Dear Ms. Goodall goes on to say:

“One way is to help us be less arrogant and realize that we’re part of it all. Some people say, “Well, you know, a few animals, what does it matter if they go extinct?” But I’ve been to places…where absolute crippling poverty as a result of environmental degradation is meaning that people are suffering horribly, too. And it’s getting worse and worse. People are moving because their islands are going underwater. And, I mean, we should be able to understand the consequences of our selfish behavior by now.”

Sometimes I look around me and I wonder “how arrogant and stupid can we be?”  Why does a family of 4 need to cut down trees to live in a home with 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, and 2,500 square feet to boost?  Are they the Bunyan family??  Why do we NEED so much, in such excess, all the time? 

Why is EVERYTHING never good enough?

We’re so myopic, so narrowly focused.  “In a down economy I don’t have time to worry about the earth because I need all my effort to make it through a day.”  I get that; I’m feeling the same way too.  But what good does it do us to get through a day if we’re doing it by murdering and stealing and destroying everything around us?  Are we three year olds on a tantrum tear?  Are we entitled to bully through our lives, kicking and screaming and tearing down the walls, because it’s DIFFICULT?

“There’s a saying, “We haven’t inherited this planet from our parents, we’ve borrowed it from our children.” When you borrow, you plan to pay back. We’ve been stealing and stealing and stealing. And it’s about time we got together and started paying back.” -Goodall

Please, PLEASE, take two and a half minutes right now and think about what Jane Goodall is saying.  Just think about the rationality of it, the common sense of it, and TRY. 

I am betting that no one who reads this is a corporate giant, or industry tycoon….so I’m either preaching to the choir or I’m still trying to talk to a person who long ago stopped reading because, to them, my words are nonsensical.  This is what leaves me feeling like a lone survivor, screaming from the top of a hill to no one left below.

We are burning down our own house for a few dollars in wood.  There will be nowhere left to live once the wood is gone; for it is an absolute certainty that some things will stop for us, whether or not we slow down for them.

*Jane Goodall’s words are excerpted from Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues published by The New Press, Inc

* Emily Dickinson excerpted from Brooklyn, Cuny

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