Monday, March 11, 2013

E is for Earth

As I watch the beauty of my element disappear around me through constant construction (new freeways and shopping centers) and destruction (the evils of fracking), I get the urge to embrace what little I have left. Or escape the pain of "progress" and find nature again. Living with a government that values the dollar over the air we breath, the water we drink, and the earth that feeds us frightens me. The scariest part is the absolute refusal of major groups of Americans to even admit there is a problem, much less take responsibility. To deny our climate is in turmoil is to turn a blind eye to the truth, to choose ignorance because it disagrees with dogma (or the corporations with profits at stake).

Part of me feels helpless to do anything to change. But a larger part knows that as an urban dweller, I contribute to the problem as much as the people who believe the Earth was put here just for them to use and abuse as they see fit. In my search for a way to help make a difference, however small, I found a book of essays called Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future. The description on the book says that "Once, Pagan spirituality was about nature and survival...It still is." Essays from authors such as Ly de Angeles and Starhawk cover a wide range of topics from several perspectives. I will review the book in more depth once I've had a chance to read all of the essays. For anyone who wishes to discuss it with me, you can find it at Llewellyn Worldwide or on Amazon.

I was also introduced to the writings of Rachel Carson while taking an environmental science class. We read a biography about her lifelong fight to preserve nature from the use of dangerous pesticides, chemicals that killed not only the insects damaging crops but the flora, fauna and anything that fed on them. Crop dusting wasn't exactly done with pinpoint accuracy. She fought hard to get the government to consider more than the lost revenue from farmers and the profits of the pesticide companies. Her book Silent Spring presents the facts behind the dangers of DDT and is generally considered what launched the environmental movement when it was published in 1962. And it helped in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It is a book that even now, over 50 years later, comes under fire and picked apart as poor science. Carson was called an alarmist that made grand exaggerations to make people fear pesticides while ignoring their supposed benefits. They say the claims she made about the dying bird populations are obviously not true, as the populations did not crash. I wonder how they ignore the possibility that maybe the populations did not crash because she fought pesticides so adamantly. Also, much has happened in the world of science since 1962, so yeah we know more now than we did then. The EPA has an entire section on their website that covers pesticides, including a page on human health issues. She is still an important figure because of what she began and what she stood for, through her love of nature and its delicate balance. Her other titles include The Sea Around Us, Under the Sea-Wind, and The Edge of the Sea. The wonderful biography about her writings is The Gentle Subversive.