|Catherine F. Holt
An exclusive Ground Zero direct response to "The Body Electric" with alternative solutions to the energy crisis. By Catherine F. Holt Author of the book The Circle of Healing: Deepening Our Connections with Self, Others, and Nature.
Many of us are mourning the loss of the great columnist, Donella Meadows. In her final "Global Citizen," she wrote about the difficult task of telling our children how global warming will cause the extinction of polar bears. Two weeks ago, my young friend David (aged 7) showed me a picture he had drawn of a polar bear.
I struggled to tell him about global warming and what it meant. He understood more than I thought he would, with a sigh of weariness. What a burden to place on such small shoulders. Then we painted some pictures. His showed some fish being caught in the net of a fishing boat, moaning "Arrr!" while another escaped, saying "Na, na, na, na, na!" I'm hopeful about that fish that got away from the net! And wanting to do everything I can to escape from it, myself.
The burning of fuel, of course, is the major force responsible for global warming. When I think of the polar icecaps melting, I realize how so many metaphors relate to that while describing our current plight: we are walking on thin ice, we're on a slippery slope, and the waters are rising.
Can we be truly healthy when our planet is ailing? In some places, we can't even take a deep breath without experiencing the degradation of our environment. Health is all about harmonious relationships which are mutually respectful and non-exploitive. We desperately need to heal our relationship with our Earth mother and all our more-than-human relatives with whom we share breathing space.
When a species dies out, a part of our soul is lost. Sometimes I hear the birds calling, "Adieu!"
The way of life of indigenous people is rapidly disappearing as their land is taken over, yet we have much to learn from them about how to live in balance with nature. The Achuar people of Ecuador are resisting development by the oil companies.
They are a society who hold a non-individualistic, non-dualistic view of reality, and believe that their dreams are important for helping shape collective action.
Recently I had a dream which shook me deeply. In the dream, I was part of a resistance movement in a Central or South American country. Using makeshift devices, we were diverting the water, which had been stolen from the people's land by multinational corporations, back where it belonged.
Although we had won a few small victories, often we were forced at gunpoint to undo our work. Children below the age of two were stolen by soldiers and left to die in the forest. I awoke thinking of Thich Nhat Hanh's words: "The most important thing we can do is to hear the sound of the earth crying." I don't want to fall back into the somnolent complacency and over consumption that surrounds us; I want to issue the wake-up call of resistance to the mindset that we "have to" rely on resources stolen from others.
Knowing that the blood of our brothers and sisters is on every drop of oil, and that global warming is a grave threat to all of us, can we continue to amuse ourselves with jet travel to exotic places? Like any addict, we oil guzzlers think we can't live without it, and we are in a deep state of denial. I see it in myself whenever I drive my car, use electricity, or in other ways consume fossil fuel.
I think the only solution is to walk my talk better. When I'm on my bicycle, I am riding my talk; I am free of guilt and denial, and that is very healing! The more I do it, the easier and more natural it becomes, although it is still scary to share the road with cars that whiz by so fast and seem so unaware of my presence.
Maybe I'll start to tote up the miles I ride my bike every week and calculate how much gasoline that saves. Even better is the way my body feels from the exercise.
It's encouraging to learn that a compact fluorescent bulb uses 75% less energy than the conventional ones, lasts 10 times as long, and saves up to $50 in bulb and electricity costs over its life. One bulb prevents the emissions of up to 16 pounds of acid-rain causing sulfur dioxide and up to 2000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Why not give them as gifts to everyone you know? I'm researching it: Ikea sells 'em for $5 - $6 each, and I've heard they can be found for even less. Have you heard about people fueling their diesel Rabbits or trucks with recycled vegetable oil from fast food chains?
The exhaust smells like french fries and is virtually pollution-free. Some folks are living off the grid, using a combination of energy efficiency, photovoltaics, and alternative transportation such as bicycling, car-sharing, and mass transit.
So much of the power of the giant corporations rests on our addiction to oil. Won't it be great when we can say: "Just say no to corporate rule--we don't need their fossil fuel!"
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