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August 22, 2013

WILLIAMS: Does anyone still care about the planet?

I don’t get quite as emotion-ally involved with the state of the earth as I used to. I have no grand-children and therefore, no hostages to the future.

And it appears the future is looking more precarious all the time.

The environment was always my pet political issue because, while other things may cause vast temporary pain, they are temporary — wars end, dictators are overthrown, economies bounce back. While that may not be much comfort to the individuals who lost loved ones in the wars or went hungry during depressions or were tortured under dictators, man can overcome events. And we can do it on a cosmic dime (relatively speaking) by changing laws or changing attitudes.

No so with the environment. When a species has been wiped out, it is gone forever. When an aquifer is polluted, it is mostly likely ruined forever (at least as humans think of forever). When we change our very climate so that the ice melts and the seas rise and the hurricanes and tornadoes become ever more deadly, there is no saying, “oops, let’s go back,” at least, not any time soon.

In the ’60s, when young people were a’brim with the idea that we could change the world through movements — (civil rights! women’s rights! end the war!) there was a passion for the environment. We high-fived when the Endangered Species Act passed. We wanted to save the wetlands and the redwoods and the habitat of this or that owl or fish or mammal. There was an almost spiritual fervor about defending our planet against the greed of the plunderers.

Now we post pretty pictures of wolf cubs on Facebook, maybe we even make a small donation, and that’s our contribution to the cause.

There are now more wild horses in captivity (50,000) than there are running free (46,000 +/-) because sorry, there just isn’t room for them. We need those grazing rights for cows, don’t you know?

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