Thursday, March 08, 2007

Save The Planet, Save Ourselves

Whenever I need a break from the stresses of day to day life, I go for a walk. It helps that I live in a magnificent part of the world. Within a half hour of my home I can walk by a river, a couple lakes, a saltwater bay, and numerous parks with tall trees and creeks and ponds. By most people's standards, especially those who live in urban environments, I live in a wondrous nature paradise. I show it off to visitors. I live in awe of its stunning beauty even now, a quarter century since I first moved here. It never pales for me. It never loses its magic.

But I can also see the changes. The mountains and hills that surround much of this area have bald patches from the obscenity of being one of the few places in the world that still clear cuts entire mountainsides without any thought to future or even present generations. In the rainy season, which is a good deal of the year here, the clear cut patches become conduits for mud and debris filled flood waters that destroy homes and farmlands at their foothills.

In the out of control greed of slash and burn GOP rule these last few years, the families in those homes and farms become insignificant. It doesn't matter how long they've lived there or if their family homes and farms get washed away in the debris. Only one thing matters and that is how much the corporate clear cutters can get for the mountain's "lumber." There is no thought to the safety and well-being of the people below. The spindly replacements are reforested into the ground using desperate, transient and undocumented laborers willing to work for little money. And then everyone moves on and what the deer don't eat, the winter rains wash away, leaving a few tiny twigs to replace the thick forests that were clear cut away.

The mountains and hills stripped bare by cut and run profit taking are forgotten. They become as insignificant as the human beings whose lives were permanently devastated by the profit grabbing from above. Sadly, in some of the cases, those who were destroyed and will be destroyed are the same loggers and their families hired by the corporations to put their own property in danger. The Corporate Pigs know people don't dare complain or worry out loud when they're desperate for work. They shut up and pray. And they collect their paychecks until the Pigs move on to somewhere else. And then the loggers pray the unemployment checks don't run out before they find more work, and their homes won't wash away, and that mudslides won't turn into raging avalanches of boulders, uprooted stumps, and small trees left to rot because they weren't big enough to put on the truck or small enough to plant back into the ground. In the meantime, the rains come and the hill turns to mud and prayers don't seem quite enough anymore.

I also see this same lack of foresight when I look to the bay. Salmon comes from out of town now. Some of my once favorite fish aren't safe to eat in large quantities anymore. I can't find any fresh mussels in the store and the shrimp and clams come from China instead of from the fishing boats these days. The waterfront is changing from industrial to overpriced condominiums for urban refugees and wealthy retirees. But the train still runs below these condos and parts of the bay are preceded by the words: Superfund cleanup...

It's also impossible to walk from one end of town to the other anymore without crossing a major highway or intersection. The interurban trail system crosses more and more through urban areas and instead of forests, they are part of people's backyards. The traffic is horrendous and the roads are falling apart. There's no money to fix anything and yet new housing developments take over more homeland, and more poor and working poor are evicted from apartments that are converting to condos. The air smells like fuel, gasoline, diesel and continual traffic in many parts of town now. It is noisy and crime-infested in more and more of it. It is a dying paradise.

But the saddest part of all this is what is happening to the wildlife. Unchecked growth has displaced so many of the creatures who live around here. During a cold stretch a few weeks ago when the snow froze on the ground and didn't melt for days, I ended up with squirrels, raccoons, possums, and so many birds they would empty the feeder in less than an hour. I put out pans of hot water that they drank thirstily and quickly before it froze.

And the deer came. Skinny, hungry, thirsty deer who were so desperate they put aside all their fear of human beings. I fed them apples and gave them water and felt both a sense of awe that they were eating from my hands and also a deep sadness that in a place so lush, so beautiful, so filled with plenty, these beautiful creatures were starving because their homes were gone. Their grazing meadows were now condo villages. Their creeks were now in the middle of housing developments. They had to dodge traffic to go from block to block to try and find something to eat that wasn't frozen solid under the snow.

I took a picture of one of them after he hungrily ate three apples in a row and drank a bowl of water. He's tiny with ribs showing through his fur. But he's so beautiful and such a symbol of what greed and a total disregard for nature leaves behind. Look at him good. Look in those eyes. And then get out and do something to reverse the damage being done to our planet because no human should be able to get so close to a wild creature. It's just not natural. And it's our fault.

Changing minds one t-shirt at a time. Visit Ursine Logic for more designs.

No comments: