Keynote Address From The 2009 International Conference on Climate Change More on Global Warming. Global Climate Crisis… Weather… Whatever. And my previous posts on same. Download as PDFPrint Page By Holly Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and indie-publish my new ones. View all of Holly's posts.
If the side-effect of people getting their “basic needs” is the destruction of the environment, then the planet’s only sentient, creative species will die out along with all the non-sentient, non-creative species in this world. That is why you should care about what is happening to the environment – if it dies, so do we!
I’m not saying that pristine wilderness has to come first at the expense of people, God no. People need to eat – turning forest into crop land in Brazil has never, ever bothered me for that very reason – people need to live, and people need to have jobs. Definitely. It’s just here – the only life I know – there are empty houses in the towns and cities (not just in the ‘bad areas’ either), empty buildings, empty industrial areas… why not fix those instead of constantly ripping up wild places and building new? Why not sell off most – if not all – the new houses that were built LAST year (and the year before and the year before that) that didn’t sell instead of making a whole pile of new ones to sit empty? Why keep making wide, paved roads that literally go to nowhere and sit there, unused for YEARS except for the occasional farmer heading to his fields? Why ‘straighten a stream’ so that it’s easier to plan some project around when we all know that it’s gonna flood with no curving banks to slow the water and the project will sit there mostly un-rented anyway? Why build ANYTHING in a floodplain? Ever? Is there some compulsive need to get insurance money so you can build it all again, wasting more time, money, resources, and time on the news? Is there a reason to have brand new empty buildings awaiting buyers and renters? Is there a community benefit to have existing structures decay and ultimately be torn down (and replaced with NEW!!!) instead of maintaining them and trying to sell THEM instead of new new new new new?
That’s all I’m saying. It just seems like folks here have a NEED to tear out and make it all bright, shiny and new at the expense of nature and taxpayer money instead of managing with what’s already available until it’s actually used up. And yet we have mandatory recycling, CFC lightbulbs pushed at us everywhere we go, no more paper bags at grocery store, and stringent warnings about the dangers of plastics. Why must the PEOPLE reduce reuse and recycle – and lower our carbon footprint – but the folks in charge just go around willy nilly ripping things apart all in the name of progress and development? Why can’t we leave the wild places alone until we’ve actually USED the places we’ve already torn up? Isn’t THAT waste or paving over anything green a lot more of an issue to our environmental health than someone not recycling their pop cans?
My take on this is as follows:
People need places to live. They need housing, roads, jobs, food—and to get those things, they need to have houses, workplaces, farms, and the infrastructure to support them. You want to set aside parks, fine. I love parks. I love forests.
But I have no love for the people who would see 99% of the planet’s population starve and die in order to turn the world into a “pristine” (read people-less) wilderness. Everyplace I’ve ever lived, I’ve planted trees. Everyplace I’ve ever lived I’ve left better than I found it. But when the people who block every nuclear plant and every coal plant and every oil refinery ALSO block wind farms and solar installations from being built because they aren’t pretty—because they cause “visual pollution”, I say FUCK ’em.
The only purpose in saving the trees, the wilderness, the beauty, the wonder of nature is so humanity, the planet’s only sentient, creative species, can enjoy it and use it. If we as a species are not here to appreciate it, I don’t give a shit whether the place survives or not.
Human beings and the quality of their lives are what matter to me. MY people are what matter to me. My family, my friends, my readers, my students. The absence of all those nasty, dirty things the environmental Nazis want us to do without, like electricity, transportation, water, and food will make it impossible for what matters to ME to survive.
Living in Germany, it’s slightly different. Over here it would not be allowed to change a forest into anything but a forest (meaning: you can plant other tree species and harvest some trees but you can’t build houses) AND exceptions are terribly hard to get (the “developers” have to plant twice as much new forest if they want to cut down an old one). This has only changed because people grouped together and built a lobby for nature. A lot of these people can now be found in the political party “The Greens”. It’s still far from perfect but it’s much better than it used to be.
I agree that far too many people talk about “preserving nature” but as soon as the demands of actually doing so reach their purses they are out (hybrid car? Wow, look a the price – lets take a xxx instead; Photo voltaic? Who can pay that? Insulating the house is way too expensive… I could go on)
Well, fact is that if we don’t start to change our lives there won’t be muich nature left for our kids … and guess how long they will survive then?
I have a question…
Folks go on and on an on about ‘saving the environment’ and their solution is lowering carbon emissions, reduce-reuse-recycle, avoid plastics, yadda yadda yadda. Okay, fine, whatever. I don’t really mind doing any of those things to keep the planet tidy. I’m all for tidy. What I’d like to know is why no one seems to rant about new housing developments and industrial parks and paved roads going in places where there used to be grass and weeds and trees and ponds and all sorts of wildlife, insects, and naturally happy to keep on living their ecosystems. Only now there’s concrete and asphalt and steel and people’s patios.
Back in our old neighborhood there used to be 50 some acres of woods. Was a lovely woods, hilly and wonderful and chock full of things that God put there to live their happy natural lives. Then the man who’d owned it for forever died and his kids sold it to ‘developers’. Now it’s all wide paved roads twisting around all the crammed-in huge houses and the closest thing to wildlife this once beautiful place has is the plastic deer at the entrance sign.
It just pisses me off. What good does it do to recycle my pop cans, plastic, and whatnot (let alone drive my hybrid car) if someone’s gonna come along and rip up 50 some acres of trees just to pave it over? Isn’t THAT a far worse crime against the environment than driving an old gas-drinking car or chucking the occasional plastic bottle into the trash?
No wonder we’re having so much flooding anymore. Rain and snow-melt can’t soak into the dirt if it’s covered by buildings, asphalt and concrete. Dammit, deer and rabbits and birds and salamanders have a right to live too instead of being evicted by bulldozers all in the name of urban sprawl.
Anyway, my question – other than the ones I’ve sort of raised already lol – is why when people go on and on about global warming and the environment and whatever, WHY don’t they ever seem to say ‘hey, we need to quilt paving over and developing our countryside’? Why does the Gov’t insist on making more roads, more bridges, more industrial parks, more housing developments, more shopping centers…
When is enough ‘development’ enough?