We have a choice: aggressiveness or fairness
So many cars carry magnetic yellow ribbons reading Support our Troops. How many of us have stopped to think about just what supporting the troops means? Its easy to hang a magnet on a car. But its not so easy to ask the tough questions about the responsibility we all bear for the wars we ask our troops to fight. How do our lifestyles affect the welfare of our troops?
Some of us think oil is a major reason for war and strife in the Middle East. Others say otherwise. No matter what you think, good science shows oil supplies in the world are dwindling, and society is seeing the effects. We, in our own community, can delay the inevitable demise of oil by conserving it. Industry leaders are now recognizing the financial advantage of getting a head start on an oil-free economy.
Climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, will alter ecosystems and ocean currents and flood arable land. The U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change reports that our maple/beech/birch forests will be completely displaced by more southern forest types by the end of the 21st century. This means an end to the maple syrup industry in our region. It means no more beautiful fall colors. Extreme weather will become more frequent.
Without a doubt, future wars will be about resources: potable water, arable land and food. We cannot live without them. We, in this region, are still blessed with open space, water and quality of life. Our regions resources, infrastructure and the natural areas and open spaces that draw people here will be put under even more strain.
We have a choice. We can choose aggressiveness and might in pursuit and protection of resources, or we can choose fairness, justice, and equity in the pursuit of resource sharing. We can use our great creative abilities to switch to sustainable energy and sustainable lifestyles, or we can fight ever more aggressively for what we already know is a dwindling energy source.
The aggressive model will entail military might and draconian measures to keep the have-nots at bay. It will mean sending our sons and daughters to fight and die in order to perpetuate an ugly and fear-ridden society. It will cause people to adopt a fortress mentality, or in some cases, a terrorist mentality.
The fairness model will necessitate investment in sustainable technologies. It could usher in a golden age of imagination, innovation, creativeness, cooperation and compassion. It will create good and honest jobs. A new study released last week says major climate change legislation such as the bi-partisan Climate Stewardship Act just reintroduced in Congress would mean 800,000 more U.S. jobs within twenty years.
I think the fairness model is closer to the principles and values upon which this nation was founded.
So let us put our Support our Troops ribbons on fuel-efficient vehicles. Use a shovel rather than a snow blower. Use a broom rather than a leaf blower. Not only will these simple acts cut oil use, but they will also cut dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, cut down on noise, save us money and will help us to be more healthy and fit.
Think big. Imagine a sustainable world and the role our community can play in reducing the battle for dwindling oil reserves. Imagine how you can make our lives cleaner and safer. Then, put your imagination into action. I think our troops will thank us. I think our children and grandchildren will, too.
I vote for the fairness model.
[Katharine Dodge is an artist/illustrator, board member of Northeast PA Audubon Society and founder of Waynepeace.]