As I write today, Mexico has experienced a massive earthquake. Houston Texas is still cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey, while Hurricane Irma has already destroyed Caribbean Islands and is headed for Florida. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are starting their cleanup and Floridians are evacuating. Hurricane Jose is already at Category 4. Scientists are seeing satellite images of gathering hurricanes they’ve never seen or imagined.
Meanwhile, the states of Washington, Montana, Oregon, and California are fighting enormous wildfires. The historic Columbia Gorge burned beyond imagination due to a teenage boy’s reckless tossing of a firecracker. He and his friends laughed. Until they didn’t. Nearly 150 hikers had to be rescued from the Eagle Creek Trail, firefighters stayed up all night foaming the Multnomah Falls Lodge to save it, and people who were evacuated have yet to be able to return to their homes to assess the damage.
We were warned. In the 1970s scientists were telling us the damage people were doing to the environment with our carbon fuels, our careless ways, our overspending, creating more and more junk that would not disintegrate—ever. We were told to reduce, reuse, recycle. There were scientific papers (beginning in 1970), reports from the National Science Board, articles in Time and Newsweek. But the oil companies are a powerful lobby, and people love their automobiles. Exxon did a study which predicted what would happen if there was no change. The company suppressed and ignored their own study for decades. After the [fake] oil crisis of 1974, we built cars to have better gas mileage, we imported smaller cars, we panicked for a minute.
At the same time, fast food became a way of life. McDonald’s put plastic toys in every Happy Meal beginning in 1977 in Kansas City (where I lived at the time). Children wanted more. We gave them more.
President Reagan busted the unions, started deregulating industry, and we began importing more and more, cheaper and cheaper clothing, electronics, and other goods. Our industries began moving their factories to other countries where labor was cheaper. Walmart became ubiquitous. We could get anything we wanted. Cheap. Cheap enough to throw away.
We have choked our ocean and filled our landfills with so much plastic that it is the fact that every continent has plastic fibers in its drinking water. In fact, 83% of all drinking water around the world is contaminated. In the US, it’s up to 94%, including places like Trump Tower and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Wake up. No matter what else you are doing to fight hate, you must also be doing everything you can on a personal level to change how we people are destroying our only environment. Planet Earth will continue on no matter what we do. But if civilization is to continue, we have to do better. And we have to do it now.
Stop using plastic water bottles. The plastic is already in the water. Buy and use a metal or glass water bottle. And drink from the tap. Use a filter on your faucet, but drink tap water.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. For real.
Go paperless everywhere you can. Get your news on your computer or phone. Sign up for paperless bank statements, credit card statements. Ask for ebills from everyone you do business with. Unsubscribe from catalogues and junk mail.
There are a million things you can do. You can find environmentally friendly ways to clean your house, store your food, landscape your property, wipe your butt. There is no need to destroy old growth forests for soft toilet paper. If you need softness on your undercarriage, use a bidet, or environmentally friendly wipes. There are earth-friendly answers for everything we do. Finding them is as easy as using your browser.
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.