Monday, July 19, 2010

Trout a la Penzoil

Who loves fishing? Who loves tinkering with their car in the backyard? Who loves Jiffy Lube so they don't have to change their own oil? Gimme a hoo-yeah!

Economic rationalism believes that if we divvied up the land and gave everyone an equal stake in it, that they'd take care of the land and its resources because they've be personally vested. Lemme ask you, is your neighbor as interested in taking care of his front yard (or side, or backyard) as you are? If the answer is "no ma'am, my neighbor don't take care of nuthin'!" then please be patient with me while we talk a little about the Utopia economic rationalists live in.

Economic rationalism assumes too much in the way of individual persons accepting adequate responsibility for the land. Some people have standards that would be considered "sub par" and their interests in the land may or may not include antifreeze and old engine oil seeping into the soil after a Saturday spent in the backyard several months ago.

In fact, I know a mechanic that runs his business out of his home, and all his work surfaces are dirt, and there is no collection practice in place for various car lubricants that drip or spill out of the vehicles he works on. He also lives just up the hill from an all-weather creek that is used to water horses downstream, and eventually feeds into a major fishing river. Yummy yummy, trout with a touch of Penzoil. Now, he's a nice man, and he's very smart about how an engine works, but he may not know so much about how ecosystems work, and he may not care. It costs money to collect all those fluids and tote them twenty miles into the nearest town to dispose of them properly, and pay someone to dispose of them for him at that; this is where economy and ecology are at odds. It's hard to wanna do something good for the fish down the river when it directly affects how much milk a person has in their fridge, or whether or not they can pay the electric bill and have a fridge at all!

Now, I wanna make a statement here about Earth. It's the Axiom*, folks. We can't send a shuttle to Mars for more coal or clean water. Whatever is on this planet is all we've got. When it's gone, it's gone. The idea, therefore, is to find a way to work with the Earth, not against it, for survival and thriving of us all -- humans, animals, and plants alike. We even need insects; they're part of the ecosystem. I'm okay with killer bees staying in their native environments, though. No need spreading them around outside their indigenous zones....

I'm not the greenest person on the planet. I drive a car that runs on fossil fuels. I light my home with CFL's and run the AC like my comfort is all that matters to me. I try to avoid using paper for anything, I reuse shopping bags, and I try not to purchase something with the intent of throwing it away, with the exception of stuff like toilet paper. I like my vegetables with a side of chicken or cow, and I understand that there is a need for farm-raised meats and a place for leather goods. I like my seal-skinned boots; they keep my feet warm and dry in the snow. I'm what Ed Begley Jr. would consider a travesty to conservation everywhere, but Ted Nugent and I could agree on a thing or two.

I do "get it" though. I don't necessarily agree with the melodramatic "doom and gloom" approach to conservation and the finite resources of the environment, but I do get it. We need to realize that we are part of the ecosystem, not in control of it. Ask any natural disaster survivor how much control they had at the moment they went through that disaster, and that's us folks, all of us, every day. We can no more control Mother Nature than we can understand where she'll rage next. But we can learn to accept that we are a part of her, and we can work with her. Course, that's something everyone is gonna have to decide for themselves. We can't mandate or legislate giving a damn into anyone. But maybe if we chose to give a damn, we could minimize legislation, and find something that works more practically than economic rationalism.

*the space ship in Disney's WALL-E

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