Mari Margil in ‘Stories From The Environmental Frontier’ [ewl, 249-255] writes bluntly, ‘The planet is dying.’ Seems unreal. I’m coming up on the fourth anniversary of my brain injury. For four years I’ve had my personal struggles with reality. This comes on top of it. Thing is, around here most people don’t do anything, except maybe watch ‘Wheel Of Fortune’. Fin de siecle? Ou fin de tout?
Those who do something seem too few. The rest, well, maybe they gave up. Maybe it’s all too much. Maybe some are in denial. Maybe some think we still have time. Maybe some think technology will save us, pull another rabbit from the hat. Or maybe they don’t know, yet. If ever. Or maybe they’re doing what they can, and I just don’t see.
Like I didn’t see for over forty years the beauty of the song ‘Snowbird‘, not until I heard the composer’s daughter, Catherine MacLellan, sing it, and the CBC announcer give a little background on the composer. I didn’t know.
The planet is dying. Unless.
It’s not fair. We got kids to raise. Lives to live. Songs to sing. But what’s fair? Fair or not, we can still love. Still find and make beauty. Also, fair requires a future and a past, but there really is no future, no past, only the eternal now. Without a future and a past, what’s fair? However, that’s really weird, like quantum mechanics.
Yeah, I’m kinda bummed, for this comes at the same time Bill McKibben writes about the new math about climate change. But he doesn’t say, it’s game over. He says it’s time for moral outrage. And moral outrage precedes change.
Similarly, Mari Margil and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, working on the front lines of environmental law, working with citizens’ groups, have learned that it’s not game over, have learned not to back down (see below).
Have learned moral outrage. Like the outrageous, moral idea that trees are more important than profits.
I wrote about trees as representing a shift in consciousness from linear processes to cyclical processes. I wrote, ‘Think of the voyage of The Titanic–linear thinking is a one-way trip to the bottom.’
Margil cites Stone’s influential ‘Should Trees Have Standing?’ (‘Standing’ is legalese for ‘bringing a suit challenging the constitutionality of a law unless the plaintiff can demonstrate that the plaintiff is (or will imminently be) harmed by the law’–in the U.S.; it differs elsewhere. Wikipedia, 2012-07-23). In other words, does Nature have rights? She then cites The Lorax, (you remember the Lorax, eh, from a story by Dr. Seuss, who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler?) and asks, ‘Will you speak for the trees? For if not you, then who? And if not now, then when?’
She observes that current environmental laws don’t actually protect the environment from exploitation, they regulate its exploitation. Her advice? ‘The people in the communities [not a thousand miles away in a boardroom] … must write new structures of law.’ Then be prepared for a fight to enforce those laws, the will of the people.
The planet is dying. Unless we have a change of heart.
Meanwhile, this awareness surfaces elsewhere. For example, the guy running the local homeless shelter drives a hybrid. You can now power and heat your home with renewable energy. Writers know it too. Awareness of the circle of life even snuck into Disney.
The planet may be dying, says Margil; however, it ain’t dead yet. Like me and my brain injury, things may seem bad, but creativity precedes transformation, ineffable surprise too, yet only after things get really tough.