To my blessed, beautiful grandchildren I leave this polluted, nearly ruined Globe!
by Charlie Leck
By my accounting, using figures out of my family history, I have a maximum of 12 years left on this planet Earth. The days go by so quickly. I have no fear, but I do have some deep regrets that require me to plead for forgiveness. I direct these pleas primarily to my grandchildren; for, I am bequeathing to them a nearly ruined, heavily polluted planet. What is my role in this sinfulness? Oh my, my sins are legion!
First off, and most sadly, I have been indifferent and incurious about this terrible injustice that has been committed before my very eyes. The Great Creator presented us with a masterful, but complex, spinning globe on which we would be able to live on-and-on if we would but take great care of the gift. Instead of caring for this planet of such beauty, we have abused it. Our abuse is motivated by our greed – our absolutely feverish desire to live lavishly in our own time even though our lifestyle would leave unimaginable complications for you, my dear grandchildren.
I could not raise my voice in protest during my life time because the problem seemed so huge and so complex and my voice so small and insignificant. I allowed greedy, foolish and hopelessly ignorant corporations and their political patsies to establish the environmental rules and standards. Their message to us seemed so marvelous: "Buy more comfort, more pleasure and more sensory satisfaction!" So, I did!
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew all this lavish pleasure and comfort was coming at a price; however, if I could just keep this information tucked way back there, I could safely ignore it. Oh, don't get me wrong, I claimed to be an environmentalist and I boasted of my love for the planet. Ten years ago I even began recycling in earnest and with fervor. I purchased cloth grocery bags and took them to market with me each time I shopped. I began using more environmentally friendly detergents. I knew I wasn't really doing enough, but these little concessions enabled me to fool myself into thinking I was protecting your world and your futures.
How could I ever have an impact on giant corporations and on the industrial nations? I was so wise that I knew such a notion was foolish! I simply sat back, fully aware that my own nation was the most significant offender of Mother Earth's environmental health. I preferred to think that a large number of babbling politicians, hoards of corporate executives, and dozens of talking heads in the media, knew more than distinguished, highly educated scientists all over the world. These extraordinary scientists were telling us very clearly that we were ruining the only place in the Universe that we might call home, our planet Earth. They said we were obliterating this protective shield that the Great Creator had put in place for us. Without this sheath of defense, they say, we are doomed. The scientists also told us that we were ruining the air we breathe and the water we drink. Corporate leaders assured us there were solutions.
I preferred to believe a pitiful talking head, who claimed to know better than the scientists. In the year 2,000, we elected a President of our nation who also believed the talking head. Our President made it clear that he thought the distinguished scientists were crying wolf. If we listened to them, he told us, we would ruin our economy and many of our great corporations would be annoyed and discomforted.
Oil was both the magic word and the seductive elixir in my life. I had to have it. My neighbors and friends and associates had big, luxurious and lavish automobiles and I needed to have one (or two) as well. Others had big homes, with many rooms and large unused spaces, that required lots of heat in the winter and lots of cooling in the summer, and I had to have one, too. When I ran the numbers that the scientists supplied, I could see that this black energy source was not inexhaustible; yet, it would have been so disruptive to me if I lived smaller and drove smaller. I wanted greener grass surrounding my home. I wanted the giant corporations with whom I had invested to make more – gloriously more – profits!
And, all the time, the seas and skies surrounding me were changing. Yet, I was assured by the talking head and the President, that the changes were really insignificant – that they were just part of a natural cycle. No one told me that, in the next millennium, most of beautiful Manhattan would be under water. Perhaps I heard someone whisper it faintly; however, I would not be alive in the next millennium. Nor will you my lovely grandchildren. Yet, in your life time you will see extraordinary declines in the health of your world. You will be subjected to great discomforts as a result of my wastefulness, greed and ignorance. When you are my age and have grandchildren of your own, if we keep living as lavishly as we do today, this planet will have become very unstable. Many people will starve. Many will be left without homes. These will be people in nations that do not have the power or wherewithal to protect their citizens. Our nation, if it continues on as it is, will be that nation most responsible for creating these complex problems for our planet.
It is so easy to look away and not see or hear the truth. I have been guilty of that great sin. How hopeful I am that your generation will become the friendliest one that Earth has ever known. How I hope you will take this gift from the Great Creator into your caring hands and nurse it tenderly back to health. It is almost too late, yet not quite. Should you be as uncaring and as ignorant as I, the planet is lost!
More than half the states in the U.S. have agreed to make substantial cuts in the production of greenhouse gases. Many of them have also pledged to produce as much as one-fourth of their electricity from renewable energy resources within their own state. Currently there are bills in Congress that would call for a 50 percent reduction in the use of oil in America over the next 25 years and greatly increase the fuel-efficiency of automobiles. You'll be shocked to learn that the American Petroleum Institute (API) is opposed to the legislation. More shocking yet, the President threatens to veto any such legislation. Both the President and API claim it will hurt the economy and cost Americans lots of jobs. To counter that, however, the Nanoveritas Group (based in Minnesota) says that this legislation would present "a huge opportunity, not an economic burden." While our President is opposing such important legislation, many in the oil industry (Conoco Phillips and Total SA) are admitting that they will be unable to meet global demand over the next 25 years.
Remember, our single nation consumes about one-fourth of the world's oil supply. We import two-thirds of that. Now oil demand is beginning to grow in both China and India in concert with economic growth in those two huge nations.
The economic opportunities to develop other means of supplying fuels to our automobiles and furnaces are extraordinary. The President ought to be encouraging these opportunities rather than avoiding them; but, as we know, this President has a difficult time handling simple logic.
Tell your Senators and your Congressional Representative to support the legislation to reduce greenhouse gases and the legislation that will demand our automobiles be more fuel efficient. Do it for your grandchildren.