Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Even the most conscientious probably can't claim only their just portion of the world's resources right off the bat. At the very least, though, you can acknowledge that your life is fundamentally unfair. There will be no arguments that you ought to have more than say, a Bangladeshi, or that you have a right to be richer. And it's worse than that. Even as you lead an unjustifiably consumptive life, it will be gracious to acknowledge that not only are you taking more than your fair share, but your lifelong history of taking more than your fair share has in fact exponentially increased the undeserved suffering of others. So there is a reparations issue to deal with as well.

"Next step? At this point, we'd all better tithe, donating 10 percent of our annual incomes to climate action or mitigation of the affects of climate change on the less advantaged. That's 10 percent that goes toward our debt to the world's poor, and it's 10 percent less that we're spending on consumer items that will hurt them even more. That's a minimally decent start."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).

If we could come face-to-face...

If we could come face-to-face with the ecological devastation that we casually leave in our wake, would we change our ways?

"Let no species disappear without public notice. If our ways of life are going to destroy infinitudes of lives, let us at least do so knowingly, and grieve for the terrible loss. Evolution is an infinitely branching tree. Each branch branches again, and branches again, budding and branching, a beautiful and endless complexity. Killing off a species not only wipes that creature off the earth forever; it also lops off the budding branch, eliminating for all time the infinite variation that might have grown from that limb. This is a loss literally beyond imagining. It is also a loss that is largely invisible."

"Create art that fills the forests with death notices. Transform every stump in the clearcut into a cross, so no one can drive by a ruined hillside without seeing it for what it is--a graveyard that stretches for miles. Let the roadside bloom with shrines adorned with plastic flowers to mark the extinctions of sparrows. Post 'missing persons' notices for the white-headed woodpeckers that used to frequent the ponderosa forest. Send an obituary to the newspaper each spring, when the frogs do not sing. Howl across the lake for the gray wolves that once roamed North America. Assemble the choir and sing hymns as the bulldozers gouge out the last checker-lilies in the valley. Print pictures of ivory-billed woodpeckers on milk cartons. Rent a hearse and follow the truck that sprays poisons in the ditches."

From Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson (Trinity University Press, 2010).