Since this week’s Mountain Xpress is the Green Living issue, I’m tackling the subject of living sustainably. And explaining why both polar bears and you are awesome.
I often dish about saving the earth. But really, I’m talking about saving us — homo sapiens sapiens. And saving the polar bears — because they’re awesome.
Earth’s been around for billions of years (like 4.5 billion). We’ve only been around for maybe 200,000 years. The earth’s not going anywhere.
But climate change could end our time here — leaving the world floating desolately through space. Ruled by cockroaches. Which are less awesome than polar bears. Or than you (unless you’re one of those people who like to leave nasty comments on my columns. You people are less awesome than polar bears).
But really, the reason not to waste stuff like water and electricity and hand lotion and burn oil that warms the atmosphere and makes ice melt in the Arctic and causes polar bears to starve, is because it’s the right thing to do. As Grandpa used to say, “Waste not, want not” (this saying, or proverb, has been traced back to at least 1772).
Why would you throw something away that can be recycled or remade into something useful? (Dad, I’m talking to you here). Why would you leave the water running in the sink if you’re not using it? Why would you leave lights on in rooms when no one’s at home? And why would you kill a polar bear unless he’s threatening to eat you? Because it’s wasteful. And wasting, whether it’s money or resources or time or polar bear life, is wrong.
We know this already. This is what our parents taught us, what their parents taught them, what we teach our kids. We learned it. We teach it. But we still don’t always do it. We don’t walk the talk.
And if we don’t walk the small talk, we can’t walk the big talk. Because while all the little changes add up, soon we’re all going to have to make some big changes — on the community level, the national level, the world level — to survive.
As many of you know, in a few weeks, the United Nations is gathering 192 world governments in Copenhagen to hash out an international climate agreement that will change all of our lives — for the better (Enviro-spouse will attend, as will a few other Ashevillians). I hope the negotiations come in time to change the lives of polar bears as well, though it may be too late for them.
Thank you, U.N. This is good. Because it seems we homo sapiens sapiens need help with making changes — both large and small.
In the mean time, I’m planning to be less wasteful whenever possible. I’m dreaming that we can work together to become a global community whose primary goal is preserving life — our lives and polar bear lives and dog lives and ocelet lives and chicken lives and komodo dragon lives. I’m optimistic that with a bit less waste, my kids may have kids who have kids who have kids and so on, all of whom are able to thrive on our planet.
Down with cockroach kings! Up with polar bears! Up with people!
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.