by Christine Maccabee
I listen to C-SPAN on the radio, though some people watch it on TV. It is a great station that invites all sides of issues to be discussed, and even though I do not agree with every opinion expressed, I try to keep an open mind.
However, one issue I am passionate about is climate change, or disruption as I prefer to define it. I believe, after all the information I have read and heard, that many of the problems we see devastating the Arctic ice—and, yes, now the Amazon rainforest—are man-made. You may disagree, or not even want to think about it. However, I believe the vast majority of people do care and want to make changes that will improve quality of life on our planet.
Back in the 1970s when I lived and worked in Baltimore, my parents were actively advocating for improved air quality in that polluted city. The Better Air Coalition held hearings in order to let the peoples’ voices be heard, and they came by the hundreds to speak and to listen. I had just written a song called “Nature, I Apologize,” one of my first songs ever. My heart was thumping wildly as I went up to the mic with my guitar and boldly sang that song instead of speaking. The result was a standing ovation and an invitation to come back in two weeks and sing it again so it could be aired on national news, which it was. Those were the days, my friend…
Now, these days may be worse. From what I am learning, large corporate interests are, and have been for decades, expanding their profit-making interests into the rainforests of the world, not just the Amazon. Most consumers do not know that 80 percent of the Malaysian rainforests have been decimated, slashed and burned, in order to grow palm oil plantations. Going through a local grocery store with a friend, we made a survey of products with palm oil in them, and easily half of the products use palm oil, palmitate, or palm kernels. Palm oil is a huge business, and sadly all the rainforest animals and plants are being killed in the worst possible way, by fire and bulldozers. In addition, indigenous people are being driven off their land and some are being used as poorly paid workers, basically slaves. The icing on this cake is horribly polluted air and water.
So, now that the planet is losing precious habitat for a wide diversity of animals, plants, insects, and birds, and depleting Earth’s essential oxygen output, what are we to do? Many folks are following the lead of the well-spoken 17-year-old from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, who practices what she preaches, traveling to America on a sailboat in order to speak before the UN and rally others who care. Then there is Pope Francis, who has been a long-time advocate of taking care of our precious planet Earth (God’s Creation, not ours), our “only home.” Millions of children and adults around the earth are speaking out in large and small ways by changing their consumer habits. Some are advocating for real political change, for maintaining and improving pollution regulations, which sadly are presently under attack.
The issues of clean air and water, and preservation of ecosystems, is a consumer issue, is it not? We all eat, drive, use paper products, etc. So, in late 1900s-style, here is a short list of things we all can do to make a difference:
• Plant trees and native plants on your property or in your yard, creating habitat and oxygen for all of us.
• Try to eat lower on the food chain since methane from beef and pork is a potent greenhouse gas. Also, holding ponds of excrement overflow into creeks and rivers that is toxic to aquatic creatures.
• Buy recycled paper products, which are rare in local stores, so let managers know of your interest. A good source is the Common Market in Frederick.
• Use less gasoline by combining shopping trips to various stores, and going 55 mph on open road.
• Use less electricity by turning off unneeded lights and your computer and TV when not in use.
• Use your consumer power by checking ingredients in food you buy, boycotting anything using palm oil. Write to companies explaining your stance and share information with a neighbor.
• Discontinue use of pollinator killing herbicides and pesticides.
• Practice regenerative and permaculture gardening techniques (contact me for more information).
• Take more time to be quiet in nature, cultivating a deeper relationship with the natural world. As you do, you will be more inclined to care for it.
I heard a fellow on C-SPAN expressing his feelings of helplessness about the fires burning out of control in the Amazon. I believe doing nothing is not an option, for helping to preserve the goodness of the Earth for future generations is all our job, every day. Be glad that you are doing something, and know that you are not alone in your efforts. We are all in this together!