Another A/N blogger, Richard Goscicki, has eloquently written on the connection between religion and the destruction of our planet. Let us count the ways.
Time is wasted in religious ritual and obsessing over ancient texts. Religious wars and terrorism carry on a constant slaughter of humans and destruction of resources. Religious teachings – that contraception is wrong, that man is not descended from animals but is special, that we are meant to have total dominion over nature…all continue to contribute to the degradation of the human condition.
How we end
There must be a thousand accounts of how we began, but one only one is correct: we did descend from lower animals, and some of our bodily parts and functions may be three billion years old (see recent book about "Your Inner Fish").
Just as important than the question of how we began is the question of how we will end. Most earth-threatening disasters in movies come from without - asteroid hits, aliens, etc.
With regard to eco-disasters, there are a few "Ice Age" movies, but none struck quite the right prophetic note - except, IMHO, 1973’s Soylent Green: the opposite of an Ice Age, a parched, resourceless, end-stage Earth where people are encouraged to commit suicide, then turned into Soylent Green crackers to be eaten by the rest of a starving humanity. Cannibalism, once removed.
Eco-catastrophe now seems the way we'll go (2nd choice: massive or terrorist inspired nuclear exchange). To the extent that humans believe they possess divinely ordained dominion over nature, religion is a danger to our survival.
Seven billion people, and it’s hot!
Paul Ehrlich, who predicted the disasters that would accompany overpopulation, was way ahead of his time, his prophecy delayed by the green revolution. But the population has topped 7 bil, and it's hotter than it's been in 800 years.
During a no-winter in New England, followed by an even hotter summer, I have been reading, as I have for years, careful scientific refutations of climate deniers, and I sort of understand the science, which is that at present rates of expansion of greenhouse gases and rate of warming, we're screwed.
That was when I had my "ho-lee-shit" moment on global warming: it’s happening, and it’s irreversible; it won’t even be slowed down: we'll never keep the arbitrary levels of greenhouse gases, we'll go way past the somewhat-arbitrary 2 degree temp increase ceiling, sea levels will rise, beaches disappear, vicious floods and tornados...the whole f'ing mess.
From my judgment of the timeline, it's going to happen faster and faster, but I won't be around to see the final, hideous end.
Here in rural NH, we take our garbage to the dump, euphemistically called the Transfer Station. I unload the car with bag after bag of refuse from TWO people. What is happening with the garbage of the other 7 billion? And don't get me started on the techno-trash.
Burning it for FUN!
And during it all WE BURN FUEL FOR FUN. Auto racing, boats, jetskis -- am I the only one who notices this obscenity? The Indy 500 cars finally run on methanol (which takes lots of energy to produce, never mind the corn drought), but only for the last few years. Before 2006, they were getting 1-2 miles/gal. on gasoline.
Big races like The Daytona 500 combine everything that Americans love — speed, danger, sex (Danica Patrick), alcohol, pageantry, and the internal combustion engine.
If the President or any other notable personage were to kick off the event with a speech, here is my suggestion:
Ladies and gentlemen, loyal fellow-Americans, it’s an honor to be here! Thank you for inviting me.
I am here to ask of you an exceedingly patriotic act, an act of selfless self-sacrifice for the greater good of our great nation.
I am here to ask you NOT to run this race. I am here to ask you to look into your hearts, and ask what all the Stars and Stripes that so many of you are wearing in one form or another…ask what they really mean.
What is better for our country — to become energy-independent…or to burn fossil fuels for our own amusement and continue to kowtow to mediaeval dictatorships, just because they have oil?
I think you know the answer.
Let us not pretend there is any similarity between the cars at this race and those with the same brand in the dealer’s showroom. The vehicles in this race are most certainly not “stock” cars.
These cars were built for speed and excitement. Indy cars get 1-2 miles per gallon. A NASCAR vehicle gets 4-6. That, my fellow Americans, in times like these, is nothing short of shameful!
My fellow Americans, just as we did with killing endangered animals for sport, so should we do with the burning of fossil fuels for amusement. We should shame it out of existence, starting now.
The fuel that would have been burned today…goes right into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Now THAT is true sacrifice for America! The cars — into a museum, in a wing entitled “Last Cars to Burn Fuel for Amusement.”
Do this, my friends…do it for America. And next year, run NASCAR with some alternate fuel, as we’ll do with every auto race, until we find the best alternative.
Our great nation needs you to set an example and make a stand. Will you do it?
Thank you very much.
There’s a brilliant South Park episode in which American peacenik/liberals and redneck militarists admit that they need each other: the left needs the right to kick ass around the world so that nobody dares to provoke America, while the right needs the left to protest and make America seem a peaceful nation.
We can say one thing and do another, and that’s what America is all about!
Similarly, we’ve got environmentalists saving obscure species and wetlands but mostly looking the other way on the burning of fuel for amusement. I’m not sure why these two groups need each other, or even if they do, but for the most part, they happily co-exist. We can have our auto races – and our jetskis, snowmobiles, private aircraft, and boats, boats, BOATS – and act like we’re saving the environment too.
No, we can’t.
It’s bad enough that we still depend so much on cars, partly because of the requirement that so many of us put in “face-time” at the office (picture thousands of cars, idling bumper to bumper, every A/C on full blast, day after summer day, as repairs are done on the numerous “expressways” in this great land of ours).
But it is unconscionable to burn fossil fuel for amusement. No society that is serious about fuel conservation and energy independence can burn this much gasoline for amusement.
How many gallons of irreplaceable fossil fuel will be vaporized during this racing season? During Danica’s illustrious career? The Indy 500 must use thousands upon thousands of gallons. Daytona, NASCAR, several raceways just in New England, I can’t even begin to name them all…there’s immense social approval for it, as well as lots of logos and money (and with Danica, sex), so gentlepeople, start your engines.
And you, the idiot buzzing around on the jetski, disturbing everybody who came to the lake for peace and quiet! What is it with you and power motors? Get a paddle boat or sail boat. Better for you and the environment.
The American Way of Life
I once read that some so-called naturalists of the 19th century, amazing as it seems, took pride in killing off the last of a species. Is that what’s going on there? Is it true that, as George H.W. Bush said some years ago, “the American way of life is not up for negotiation”? Do these people just not give a shit?
Humanity has now gone through half the world’s resources, there are now over seven billion of us, and, despite decades of promises, plans, and protestations by windbag politicians, we in America are not one step closer to energy independence than under Carter. The government’s wars are certainly not helping.
And the race cars go round and round, ravaging the planet for our amusement. Yee-HA!!
An immensely symbolic issue
Maybe motor sports consume only a small fraction of America’s overall fossil fuel usage. It doesn’t matter. This is a symbolic issue: they are ravaging the planet for their amusement, just as the Romans did, slaughtering wild animals in the Coliseum.
It’s pointless to try to tax boating or motor sports out of existence. They have too much social approval and political influence to allow that. Maybe someday we could shame them to the margins of society, as we’ve done with cockfighting, dog fighting, and, to a large extent, smoking.
Here’s where Danica Partick comes in. What better place to start, what better spokesperson for the obscenity of auto racing than a reformed environment-ravager herself? She could be the poster child for transitioning motor sports to alternative fuels and turning the races into competitions to find the best one.
Nah, forget it…she’s got more important things to do.