Wednesday, January 16, 2013

“It’s Not Dark Yet, But…”

The following entry grew from a brief response to Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, whose article, “It’s Not Dark Yet, But…”, in his blog “Coming Clean,” invites club members and other blog followers to urge President Obama to make “tackling climate disruption a top priority of his second term:” 

Hello Mr. Brune: 
 I appreciate your concern and zeal for a better environment.  However, the Sierra Club should not invest too much of its time and resources in the polluted waters of Washington with its failing leadership.  For example, I'm trying not to question the president's judgment as he has led Washington's effort to "pick winners" among companies promising "green energy" options.  Unfortunately, he gave us too many losers like Solyndra while wasting tax dollars in the process.  Indeed, my confidence in a leadership that has wasted trillions on bridges to nowhere has waned.   If the same trillions had been invested under the direction of knowledgeable business entrepreneurs guided by good scientific technology, we could be on the road to much cleaner energy and much less political cronyism from Washington.  Witness the difference between FedEx and the US Postal Service.  Or, consider some of the amazing successes coming from private investments in alternative energy based on new technology.

“Getting darker?”   It sure is.  And, unless the US addresses its penchant for borrowing from China, one of the Earth's biggest polluters, America will enter the kind of "darkness" known only to societies like the Soviet Union and China in the mid-20th century where the government had its way in social planning in every area of life.  Programs out of Washington, funded by borrowing more money, have never and will never produce the results possible in a free market economy that is allowed to function in an environment of real justice which is enforced by rule of law. 

Oil derrick of "fracking" operation  near Carrollton, Ohio

"Saving the Earth" is like "Saving Our Children" from the evil intentions of people with guns (or knives or drugs).  In both cases, the focus should not primarily be upon the "outward means" (guns, knives, smokestacks, pipelines and drilling rigs).  Rather, the focus should be upon reclamation of the moral and ethical disposition of those choosing and using the "means."  Aldo Leopold was not opposed to wise use of Earth’s natural resources when he stated:

By and large, our present problem is one of attitudes and implements. We are remodeling the Alhambra with a steam-shovel, and we are proud of our yardage. We shall hardly relinquish the shovel, which after all has many good points, but we are in need of gentler and more objective criteria for its successful use. -- A Sand County Almanac, pp 263-64 [Ballantine edition]

Mr. Brune, caring for the Earth and our children both have major moral and ethical requirements and I like what one of your predecessors, Carl Pope, said:

We sought to transform society, but ignored the fact that when Americans want to express something wiser and better than they are as individuals, by and large they gather to pray. We acted as if we could save life on Earth without the same institutions through which we save ourselves.  -- Sierra Magazine 83 (November/December 1998): 14–15, 14.

It's not dark yet, but... darkness will come unless we realize that climate change, mass shootings, out-of-control national debt, abortion, gay marriage, corporate fraud, etc. are all just the “tips of icebergs”  because we have submerged and suppressed the voice of moral conscience that had come from objective moral absolutes rooted in Judeo-Christian teachings.   If we return to these teachings and apply them, we will have hope of staving off the darkness and seeing a brighter day and a greener, safer Earth. 

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