When I read the paper or watch a news program concerning environmental issues, I sometimes become depressed. The problems we face - global warming, air and water pollution, hunger, over-population and the energy crunch seem never-ending and unsolvable.
I'm just one person. You are just one person. Even if we band together to solve these problems, there are so many more out there that it almost seems hopeless. Yet, that's what we have to do. We have to clean "our house" room by room.
Different things matter most to each person. Take two people who both like the great outdoors: One of them enjoys hiking and wants to preserve the nature trails by making them off limits to traffic. The other person enjoys fishing. He wants to be able to use a vehicle in order to bring his boat to the water.
Both of them want to enjoy the same area, but they have different views as to how it should be used. Because they both enjoy nature, they probably have more in common than they think. It may be just this one issue they disagree upon. They will have to compromise in order for both of them to get what they want.
The unfortunate fact is that neither of them will probably even realize that this is something they need work on together until something goes wrong. This is human nature. Until a paper company moves in and begins cutting trees, they will view each other as foes. And, of course, by that time it may be too late to form a united opposition.
Once the bigger problem is recognized by all, they will waste time arguing over the cause, who is to blame, who should take responsibility for fixing it, and how it should be addressed. They will form a committee to study the problem, discuss the findings and propose regulations. Meanwhile, the paper company is steadily chopping trees.
If only they had recognized their common interests from the first, instead of focusing on their disagreement over one little issue. As allies, they could have worked together and drawn up a plan to protect that area of wilderness that they both love. Together they could have formed a strong, organized unit capable of taking on any challenge.
This is why we have "renegade" groups such as Greenpeace and PETA. People get tired of waiting for the regulations to be set in place and/or enforced, and so they take matters into their own hands.
Yet, even just one person can make a difference if it is the RIGHT person! For example: Rachel Carson, who wrote Silent Spring back in 1962, realized that the use of pesticides (DDT) was causing the death of non-pest insects and being passed along the food-chain to birds and other animals and also contaminating our water supply. She carefully documented the evidence and published a book about it. People in government, industry and even academia told her that she (a non-scientist) could not possibly know what she was talking about!
But, the facts were real and she put them out there for all to see. Because of her, DDT was banned. It is possible to change things. You just can't allow yourself to give up or be discouraged by others. You have to be like the turtle...steadily plodding toward the finish line. You can't be distracted from your goal.
This morning, my house is a disaster! If I look at it as a whole, I am daunted by the amount of housework I have to do. The clutter, the laundry, the yardwork are overwhelming!
I'll begin to tackle it room by room, and by suppertime, it will be under control. Not perfect, you understand, but I will at least be able to imagine again that perfection is attainable.
BOOKS AVAILABLE AT OUR LIBRARY
One with Ninevah: politics, consumption, and the human future by Ehrlich, Paul R.
Wild solutions: how biodiversity is money in the bank by Beattie, Andrew J.
The third chimpanzee: the evolution and future of the human animal Diamond, Jared M.
Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed by Diamond, Jared M.
Something New Under the Sun by McNeill, J. R.
Silent Spring by Carson, Rachel
The gentle subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent spring, and the rise of the environmental movement by Lytle, Mark H.
Writings and Drawings by Audubon, John James
Field notes from a catastrophe: man, nature, and climate change by Kolbert, Elizabeth
Rewilding the World: dispatches from the conservation revolution Caroline Frasier