GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 9, 2012

'Homeland security' for our planet


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

“It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lie on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many.”

– “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

Starstruck, I look up at Orion’s Belt, Betelgeuse, Sirius and swiftly falling streams of light and am no different than Huck Finn. Who made this world? Did it just happen?

Is this little planet truly no more than a mere speck in the ever-expanding universe; our beautiful blue globe with so many other colors offered by verdant jungles, kaleidoscopic seas, rubies, emeralds, Birds of Paradise, tiers of mountains and yellow fields dancing?

Once we have watched the night through binoculars or a telescope how can we think of Earth as anything other than our homeland? When we go to this level, won’t it help to drop the issues that divide us? Can we allow history to become what it fundamentally is, a story?

Instead of seeing the world in good guys and bad, couldn’t we allow that the sons of Abraham went in two directions, Isaac to lead his people in his father’s Jewish ways and Ishmael to lead the Arabs to Islam. Both men were success stories who built religions of lasting significance. Why not nod and let it go?

It is so commonplace to allow pettiness to take on huge proportions. I belong to a family that once split over an email; a church that divided over the purchase of a refrigerator. In my former town an interest group sued its neighbors over an art festival. Most recently, a new school was targeted by nay-sayers. Yikes! Look up. Find higher ground.

When Earth is seen as our homeland, it may make obvious our need to work together to preserve our resources. Ten years ago, we talked about storms of the century. Now nine of the 10 worst “storms of the century” have occurred in the last decade.

Do we have a disaster plan? No one wants to think about the fact that the once robust Mississippi was almost unnavigable last summer or that Lake Powell’s water (the West’s major water source) has been averaging almost twice the outflow from the inflow. No. We can’t go there. It’s too big. Too scary.

In many communities they are still arguing about gray water laws. How can they? It’s a no-brainer! So what if it costs money to install a more complex water system; imagine the costs of fresh water in the not so distant future. It’s not just about aesthetics, jobs or ancient ecological systems, it’s about endangering and squandering one of our most fundamental needs. Water.

Some say it’s about the economy, stupid. Well, stupid is as stupid does. Are we going to play deaf and blind to fracking, too? Are people so greedy that they excuse themselves for allowing lethal blasts that create about 25 times more warming effect than carbon dioxide? And do we realize that carbon dioxide levels are increasing roughly 20,000 times faster than at any time in the past 540,000,000 years? Do they not know that the fiscal cliff is nothing compared the atmospheric cliff we now are facing?

In the name of clean, we are bombarded with soaps, sprays, acids and disinfectants. They are in my cabinets as well as yours. I am as guilty as the rest, feeding our precious atmosphere with poisons — spoiling the bubble, this fragile atmosphere that is only 348 miles deep and already compromised.

We are the barbarians of the modern world, pillaging our lands and seas and contributing to the possible demise of humans along with thousands upon thousands of other creatures. We threaten all that has been built in the name of a new and more perfect world, but indeed, we must now consider lust and greed. We are the destroyers of what was already perfect, our Garden of Eden, this remarkably evolved, balanced, living planet. It’s the only home we have ever known and nothing, no one, no country, religion or philosophical belief is more important.

Let’s begin, one step at a time, to educate ourselves and truly become stewards of the earth. That is where Homeland Security should begin.

Read, write, question, and act and become our planet’s defender. Try reading “High Tide on Main Street,” by John Englander, or “Global Climate Change: A Primer,” by C. Sanders. I know it is natural to feel impotent when it comes to the hugeness of the problems, but we are not, especially as our awareness grows.

A new year is upon us. Let’s promise ourselves and each other that we will do what we can to secure the future for those who follow. Have a happy, conscious, 2013.

CAROL EGMONT ST. JOHN

Gloucester