Where does one begin?

Posted November 11th, 2008 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on Where does one begin?

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

We are in an amazing time. Many of our problems are quite grave. In the midst of that, this resurgence of hope.  Check out the one-minute YouTube video on our home page.  It will make you feel really good — a welcome from the world to Obama.  It’s from a group that one of my regular visitors pointed me to — Avaaz.org, The World in Action.  It is one of several websites I have discovered in recent days that has a global network focused on the issues we all care so much about.  Put them all together and we are talking about millions of people and thousands of organizations — grassroots, civic, non-governmental — all bound by similar ethics, aspirations, and hopes.

Save the Blue Marble - NASA photo

Save the Blue Marble - NASA photo

Things are changing.  The Great Turning has begun.  This is not about Barack Obama — he is symptom, manifestation, more than cause.  He remains a politician — a brilliant and caring one, no doubt.  But whether or not he can rise to the occasion still depends entirely on us and our willingness to get deeply involved in pushing him, encouraging him, towards the Great Turning.

I have two links for the Great Turning because they are both great websites.

Where does one begin?  Because now the task is to bring our urgent concerns to that step-by-step process of addressing them.   One of the new trends that emphasizes the change in consciousness is the nature of the debates we are having now.  Everywhere you turn, folks are talking about global climate change, energy issues, ‘sustainability’ (not a word I am particularly fond of since we are already beyond sustainabiliby and need to start talking about pulling back and about regeneration), how the ecological crises will impact the poor, land issues, species extinctions, disappearance of habitat, development issues, even the survival of the human.

It’s a full plate; it’s a plate overflowing.

Here in Wisconsin, for example, we have a full blown debate going on around the coal industry.  We have major air pollution problems, especially in the southeast part of the state, and we have growing consciousness about climate change, impacted by things like the unprecedented massive floods in the midwest last spring, the 100 inches of snow last winter in the southern part of the state (something like twice the average), and the receding of the three northern Great Lakes, combination of global warming and appalling intervention by the Army Corps of Engineers in the dredging of the St. Clair River.

Great Lakes from space - NASA photo

Great Lakes from space - NASA photo

The Corps’ project, begun in the 1960s, has hastened the flow of water out of Lakes Huron, Superior and Michigan and into the river, causing more erosion of the river banks, increasing the flow, and on and on.

Recently, the success of the Great Lakes Basin Compact has ensured that this great fresh water resource will stay where it is, not be piped off to the thirsty, over- and mal-developed southwest.  In addition, our new president hails from a Lake Michigan state and has already made a public commitment to protect and restore the Great Lakes.

Back to the debate on coal, our local utility company, WE Energies, is an example of the bind we are in.  On the one hand, it is committed to big wind farms (against some local opposition) in order to meet a state mandate on renewable energy sources (an average of 10 percent of its electricity to come from renewable energy by 2015), while also pushing for new coal-fired power plants to meet growing demand for electricity.  In the southwest part of the state, a proposal for a power plant that would use both coal and biofuels has further blurred the lines in the debate.  One wonders if we will be caught in more such conundrums — energy companies trying to get us to support more coal use by adding these biofuels here and there.

We are against coal. While we obviously cannot stop burning it tomorrow, like oil, we need to start transitioning away from this Earth-trashing way of turning on our lightsThe primary way to do this immediately is not to produce more power to meet rising demand, but to decrease demand — through energy conservation and efficiency. All of us need to do our part in this, including large institutions, energy companies, cities and rural communities, educators, government at all levels, and everybody who uses electricity for anything.  This should be a national project, one we all get excited about, one that gets families and communities all working on this great crusade — led, let us hope, by the next President of the United States.

Lots on our plate.  But it doesn’t feel so lonely anymore, does it?  It’s not just because of the election results; it is a combination of how the energy and hope ignited by the election has made us more visible to one another, along with a far greater general awareness of the seriousness of our predicament.

Those two realities are the basis for a real movement to take shape focused on the necessary recreating of the human mode of presence on the planet.  But it needs all of us!  Join in this great movement in whatever way you can, as individuals, families, communities.  We need to grab this moment because, as we know from the last many years, they don’t come around all that often — and the next moment could well be too late.

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