Everyone’s Planet

This phrase keeps circling back into my consciousness weeks, even months after I read it on my friend’s blog. Poor people don’t care about the environment.

I don’t know who should care more about it than poor people, because as our climate changes they will be the most deeply affected.

Last fall I participated, rather tangentially, in a campaign called the Real Food Challenge, which aimed to get college students across the country involved in eating and promoting healthy, sustainable food on campuses. On my campus, a group of students set up a table for a few hours during the mid-day rush hour between the library and the student union and gave away local apples and organic, fair trade chocolate.

I was in charge of giving out chocolate, not a difficult job by any means. But, as I urged one passing student to head over to the apple table for some free samples, we got into a conversation about eating organic. She was a mom, as am I, and she told me she just couldn’t afford to buy organic. I started telling her about the many benefits of organic food, and how, in the long run, it is actually cost effective to eat organic, when you think of long-term health and environmental benefits—especially if the food is also locally grown.

In this society that does little to create a safety net for the less privileged, organic and real food provides a little bit of string to help bind this net. The healthier one eats, technically speaking, the healthier one will be. You are what you eat, as it goes. And, what we eat as a whole contributes to the health of our planet, which we all share.

As climate change accellerates, and we start to feel its effects, those of us who have less will be more compromised. Those of us in relatively wealthy situations will be able to continue to afford shelter, food, medical attention, and whatever else any impending crisis will force us to face.

I recall one of the most simple ways to reduce energy use, and therefore help out the environment, is to unplug your cell phone charger when it is not in use. It doesn’t matter what your socio-economic status is to be able to complete this simple task.

I realize that there are more pressing issues than the environment on many people’s minds—especially when they are working several jobs and concerned about how to pay their bills. But it is important to remember that there could be no bills to pay at all if climate change has as devastating an effect as many scientists are warning it will. Keeping the big picture in mind while continuing to think about the smaller things in life can help ease the effects of climate change.

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Torrential Rain

It has been raining now for two days. The basement is undoubtedly beginning to flood, and it’s possible we will all float away in the coming days of more rain. It gets me thinking of two things that could or could not be interrelated depending upon your frame of mind:

1) Noah and the Ark

2) Global Warming/Climate Change (whatever you preferred nomenclature is these days)

We’ll start with the biblical story. I grew up listening to a Bill Cosby skit from the 1970s called “Noah and the Ark.”

Cosby, in all of his early wisdom, describes a modern-day Noah who is building an ark in his neighbor’s driveway. The story doesn’t go into the reasons behind the impending 40-day storm that inadvertently washes away the axis of evil that has crept into society and needs to be dealt with. It just makes Noah out to be a little dopish, and we are all left to wonder, what exactly is a cubit anyway?

This leads to idea no. 2: global warming. I have yet to incorporate climate change into my daily speak, though I realize it is not indeed the globe that is warming but the climate that is changing. That is neither here nor there. Back to business. I’m about to get really deep.

Here we have a modern-day society that is basically snuffing itself out in the name of industrial progress. Profit-centric and growth-minded tycoons have launched a campaign against the world they inhabit to produce a consumer-driven world that will in turn make them richer and more powerful. Governments are not complacent in this race to the helm for world domination. The United States, in fact, my grand country, is a key player in the destruction of our Earth. So, in getting back to the torrential rain that has been pounding on my roof, lawn and seeping into my basement for the last 30ish hours, are we starting to pay the price for squeezing our planet of its last drop of oil (or, insert preferred natural resources currently being depleted)? In biblical terms, is God’s wrath manifesting in a cleansing of the evil, destructive path humans have chosen? Of course, since I don’t believe in God as described by the Old Testament I grew up reading, I must conclude it is not indeed God who is sending out this warning to shape up or ship out, it is the Earth itself. Don’t mess with nature, she says. I made you and I can destroy you just as easily.

Though this death may be as slow and painful as Alzheimer’s, or, as my friend Kris says…a disease that never allows you to ever eat chocolate.

I celebrated Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22nd with my twin boys who are almost four years old. We spent the day–a glorious, perfect sunny day–outside. We rode our bikes. Planted wildflower seeds. Visited the local botannical garden. And, most important, stayed out of our miserable, hot and wretched car that helped to get us into this mess in the first place. It felt good to participate in a symbiotic day with the Earth. We were given this amazing day and we used it to enjoy life, each other, and foster new life (in the form of plants).

Now it is Sunday: the Lord’s Day. I am in Iowa: God’s country. I am hoping my house has ark-like qualities, and I can save my two-by-two twins from washing off the face of this Earth in part because of the choices made by people with whom they had no connection but predestined them to a scary, thunder-and-lightning world that is in danger of going extinct along with the polar bear (shhh, don’t tell Sarah Palin). We are not talking fire and brimstone. We are talking real water. In my basement. Water that hopefully will not rise high enough to set us off our foundation and floating away into the dark abyss.

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