“In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” – Donald Trump 12-28-17
I woke-up this morning and was greeted by a brain numbing 12 degree temperature. For the sunny south that is Arctic cold, Eskimo cold, the kind of cold that halts all activities. I am sure for those of you that deal with these kind of temps on a regular basis, 12 degrees would be considered a warm streak. But here, where the averages range from 30 to 50 degrees in the winter, 12 is simply paralyzing.
My oldest daughter recently introduced me to the words and thoughts of a remarkable man by the name of Wendell Berry. If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Berry he is described as an “American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer.” I just finished one of his books, Home Economics written in 2005 in which he discusses and implores “us” to pay better attention to this big blue rock floating around in space that we call home. His point is very simple, if we don’t take better care of this planet, Earth will simply take care of itself without any regard for you or I.
“The atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle – those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn’t make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn’t live without them.” – Wendell Berry
Mr. Berry knows what many of us, including “our” President, tend to forget or simply disregard, this planet doesn’t need us, hell I would go so far as to say, this planet doesn’t even want us here. In Trump’s tweet above he shows both the ignorance and the arrogance that most individuals have for this planet, the perception that Earth is here to serve our needs rather than the other way around.
Right now, 7.6 billion of us are sucking the life out of this planet and we certainly aren’t giving anything back to it. Think about it, what do you, individually, give back to Earth as compared to what you take? Ponder that for just a second. If you had a savings account with a thousand dollars in it and everyday you took one dollar out of that account without ever putting another cent into it what would you have left on day 1,000? Nothing. That is the way the vast majority of us treat this planet, as a savings account with endless resources, but Earth’s resources aren’t endless, there is, believe it or not, a finite supply of water, air, and space. Maybe it doesn’t seem like it but there will come a day if we continue on the same trajectory that some generation after us will find themselves on a planet tired of our abuse.
Mr. Berry doesn’t preach about doing away with people, and he isn’t a eco-vigilante or eco-terrorist. He understands and accepts that humans, you and I, have the right to live on this planet but those rights don’t supersede the rights of other creatures, or plants, or single-cell amoebas just because we have an over-sized brain and two thumbs. What Mr. Berry does preach about is responsibility, stewardship, and most importantly, balance.
You see what Trump is doing by ignoring Global Warming, calling it a hoax and removing legislative restrictions on clean air and water is making life easier and more profitable for the next three, maybe four generations, decisions that are easy to make and rationalize when you are 71 years old. In the meantime, at Trump International Golf Links in County Clare, Ireland plans have been approved to build a line of sea walls to prevent ocean storm waters from eroding three holes of the course. Why? Certainly I know the answer, I bet you do too but we will never hear Trump utter the reason though I would love to know what he thinks is causing the rising tide. Maybe the Earth is shrinking.
“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry
The planet Earth has the capabilities to both sustain us and as we have seen recently during hurricane season, destroy us. We can choose to live within the parameters she has set for us or we can continue to abuse her by making our own self-serving choices on how we use her resources. We can’t mold this planet to fit our needs. We may believe we can bend and break her will, but we can’t and we won’t. As Mr. Berry notes “the universe, is somewhat hospitable to us, but it is also absolutely dangerous to us (it is going to kill us, sooner or later), and we are absolutely dependent upon it.”
As much as I hate to say this, something bad, really bad needs to happen so that we, and Trump, generate some fear and respect for this universe as other cultures once did. I would imagine the people of Puerto Rico, who have experienced first-hand the power and the force of mother nature have a new appreciation of what she is capable of. But sadly our memories are short, and just as us humans are prone to do we will snub our noses at nature and rebuild, bigger and better with no thought to the next time, and there will be a next time until Earth simply gets tired of toying with us.
“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” – Wendell Berry