Living in harmony

I am learning a LOT in my masters degree.  One of the things we’re talking about is the ethical implications of our individual actions.  It may not seem like your 45-minute commute to work is wrecking the planet, but what about a million people’s 45-minute commute?  We all have a duty to exercise the utmost care in the way we live our lives.  Why?  Because you like your quiet, clean neighborhood with birds singing and blue sky.  What if one day your city or town was smog-choked because of too much traffic?  Would you feel any responsibility for contributing to that?

This has me thinking about the car I will own one day in the not too distant future.  What is the best car choice that will not contribute significantly to the environmental problems already plaguing the Earth?  A compact car?  A hybrid?  An electric vehicle?  Because I tell people all the time to act more responsibly in their personal behavior, I feel doubly responsible to lead by example.  But it’s not just about driving. It’s about living in harmony with Mother Nature.

It’s about putting up a clothesline… buying local… eating less meat.  Don’t ever think that your individual behavior does not make a difference when it comes to climate change, pollution and injustice.  When you buy an item that was made by oppressed factory workers in China and shipped here using enormous amounts of fossil fuels, you have just cast your vote for environmental injustice and degradation.  We do it all the time.  And it’s not going to end overnight because the U.S., much to our current chagrin, shipped much of its manufacturing operations out of the country.  But if we begin to create that demand for American-made goods, we can reclaim some of  those jobs and reduce the shipping costs (internal and external) of bringing those goods to market.

It may be “more expensive” to manufacture things in the U.S., but you know what’s also expensive?  The increasingly dangerous nature of natural disasters on a warmer planet.  Hurricane Irene recently caused billions of dollars of damage.  But instead of businesses paying for emissions regulation, the U.S. taxpayer will be paying for the harm caused by their pollution.  I hope we’re not going to sit back and finance these company’s shortcomings.

Without Mother Nature, we would have nothing.  And unless we learn to live in better harmony with her, we will end up with nothing.  We will degrade our beautiful natural areas, deplete all of our resources and, in many cases, we might quite literally die of thirst.  If we respect the Earth for the bountiful home that it is and not take more than our fair share from it, we might be alright.  To do this, we need to analyze our individual behavior and decide in what ways we can lower our environmental footprint.

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