May 1, 2014

WILLIAMS: Helping Mother Nature


---- — Well, another Earth Day has come and gone with very little fanfare — a few posts on Facebook, a couple of short segments on television. I can remember when Earth Day was a big deal. Lots of celebrations of our dear old planet, lots of plans for ways to take better care of her. But somewhere along the line, our attitudes changed. We mostly give Mother Nature the back of our hand these days.

We frack her and rack her and attack her. We rape her and plunder her and pillage her. We spew a stew of oil and chemicals into her waters and onto her land. We drill in environmentally sensitive areas where we never drilled before. We force poisons into her bloodstream to get at her oil. We rip off her mountaintops to get at her coal. We decimate her forests to graze more cows or plant more food. We send huge clouds of climate-changing carbons into her atmosphere. We build our houses on delicate coastlines.

Meanwhile, we treat her other children with utter contempt. Inhumane factory farming forces pigs to live in crates barely bigger than they are and chickens five to a cage only large enough for one so they have to stand on top of one another while the eggs they over-produce, thanks to the hormone-laden food we feed them, fall onto conveyor belts below. We develop industrial dairies and spray the land with hazardous materials to kill the weeds and the bugs, including the bees without which, many plants can’t reproduce.

And wild things? Unless we enjoy killing them ourselves, we mostly want them gone. The wolves and cougars are our competitors for the elk and deer we want to shoot. Coyotes are vermin. Wild horses eat forage that should be reserved for cows. Even the Bureau of Land Management, the horses’ so-called protectors, would rather be rid of them. It is against the law to butcher them but selling them to a middle man takes care of that little irritating little regulation.

And yet, through all of this, we are in total denial. Climate’s a liberal hoax. We watch the tornadoes getting huger and more violent. We watch the hurricanes getting more deadly. We watch the tsunamis getting more frequent and wicked. We watch earthquakes in areas of fracking and drilling getting more frequent and intense. We watch the winters getting longer and colder and the summers getting hotter. We watch wildfires burn as droughts become more normal.

And still, most of us shrug it off. “Move along, folks, nothing to see here.”

And oddly enough, as we become less concerned about the earth, we appear to be also less concerned about one another as well, not all of us, of course, but one of the prevailing philosophies in this country these days seems to “every man for himself.” So we cut funding for food stamps and see providing healthcare to our fellow Americans as the be all and end all of awfulness. Meanwhile, we’re fine with giving ever more license and tax breaks to the rich and corporations who profit from the fracking and the mining and the deforestation and the drilling.

The Koch Brothers, the richest Americans, made $115 billion last year and they spent a huge hunk of that trying to sway politicians and elections in ways that will leave them free to continue their free-wheeling, greedy ways. Meanwhile, many of us are more concerned with making Cliven Bundy a hero though, in practice, he’s a welfare recipient himself. Strange.

But the sad fact is that when they hurt the land and the water and the air and the bees and the wildlife, they hurt all of us too.

Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at