Monday, March 25, 2013

Sins of the Father

Possum Bluff is a beautiful stop along the St. Johns River......
until you see what man has carelessly done to spoil nature.

This picture is just a small token of the human garbage and trash that covered an area too great for the camera to capture. There is no word or thought offensive enough to characterize any person that would disgrace the environment and the world so as to destroy it for not only those who follow in hopes of enjoying the beauty of the natural world, but to also destroy the earth itself long term.

I’ve always heard that the single thing that separates man from beast more than anything else is the opposable thumb. I disagree. The opposable thumb is nothing more than a physical aberration not shared by all mammals. Just as there are other physical aberrations in nature, like the pouch of the kangaroo, the hump of the camel, the hoof of the equid, the stripes of the zebra, the neck of the giraffe, the trunk of the elephant, and so on, an opposable thumb does not elevate man above his four-legged brethren. Indeed, many other mammals have some type of opposable digit, like moneys, apes, marsupials, pandas, the East African maned rat, and even some frogs. What does separate the human from all other mammals is the ability to rationalize. Humans can create in their minds an excuse to forgive or minimalize any sin or atrocity. If something is too atrocious to rationalize, like the Holocaust, they can make believe it never happened. They can create in their minds a world, a life, or any other fantasy that does not exist in reality, and live their lives as if it does. They can create in their minds the absolute certainty that they, their beliefs, their opinions, their theologies, their values, and even their worth, is superior to that of any other living thing that exists on the planet. Even worse, they are able to divide the world into two spheres; those that agree with them are right, and those that disagree are wrong, even evil.

Nature and wildlife killed by our trash.

In the opening seconds of his film “Waterwalker,” Bill Mason says, “So, the first white man arrived in North America, and he looks out over the land. He calls it a pristine, untouched wilderness. That’s got to be the greatest compliment he could pay to the native people that had lived here for thousands of years.” Science tells us that the Native American had lived here on these lands for well over 10,000 years, and had left it a pristine, untouched wilderness. The white man, and those that followed and were taught by the white man, has lived here scarcely a twentieth as long, and has built mountains made entirely of garbage, destroyed the earth’s protective layers in outer space, destroyed the climates of not only entire countries, but the earth itself, poisoned the oceans, the surface waters, and even the earth’s inner waters from which we drink, invented chemicals that poison and cause millions of cases of cancer every year, only to then have us scratch our heads and wonder why such cases have skyrocketed, have driven thousands of species of wildlife into extinction, have left irreparable scars on the land from clear-cutting millions of square miles of forests, strip mining, cutting off the tops of mountains, and thousands of other crimes. We have traded permanent damage for everyone for a few short term dollars in the pockets of the few. Because these sins occur out of sight, intentionally, and because these decisions and deals are made behind closed doors, intentionally, we too often ignore both the deeds and the consequences. We too often think that greed is an abstract sin that sneaks up on us, that it is vague and unknowable. Not so. We just rationalize it. It sneaks up on us, and is vague and unknowable only because we don’t pay attention, and the media won‘t inform us, because they, like our political leaders, are bought and traded like stock on the open market.

A beach or riverbank almost anywhere.
It’s not vague. It happens every day. Here’s a good example as reported on February 8th, and reported by Bloomberg, if that’s not absurdly ironic. It would appear the only reason they would report it would be because they could point a finger of guilt at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the culprit, as if their decisions aren’t controlled by business interests. What happened? Well, in the middle of the worst drought in 70-years, the Corps was required to release waters held in the Upper Missouri River reservoirs to Select Energy Services LLC for hydraulic well fracking for oil and natural gas wells. The very next day a water release was requested to maintain river flow and depth in the nation’s largest river system so the shipping of $2.8 billions in cargo could continue on the river, including grain, fertilizer, and coal and other commodities. That request was refused, as they were told the waters were off limits. To release the waters would have “significant negative effects”, including depleting drinking water supplies, loss of marine-wildlife habitat, and higher bills for hydropower users.” None of those “significant negative effects” applied the day before when the waters were demanded by the oil and gas interests.

Most animals that ingest or get stangled by garbage suffer a slow
painful death by starvation.
If you still think this is all vague and unknowable, here’s another example, one where we may all contribute directly to environmental problems. Kevin Callan wrote about a canoe trip taken by him and his family across Algonquin. In his words, “A father and son portaging ahead of us left a handful of litter every time they stopped for a break; just candy wrappers and some empty fishing lure boxes, but the trash was left behind deliberately and without remorse.“ There is not only no excuse for this, but the father is both setting a horrible example, and perpetuating the problem by raising a son who will continue to litter the planet for the next sixty years. Would that trash not fit back into the pack they just took it out of? Will there not be trash cans at the convenience store they stop at for gas on the way home? Are there not usually trash cans at the ramps where they take out? Isn’t there surely a trash can they could put it in when they get home? There is no way to rationalize this. It’s stupid and inexcusable, and it is certainly not a responsible parent that not only allows, but perpetuates such behavior. Period! If you think such actions are unimportant, or that they don’t matter, take the time to watch this video.

Other than the first photo, credit for the others first goes to



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