Pushing the Environmental Cart Along

Over at the Patheos Pagan Channel, the bloggers there were posed the question about whether or not the Environmentalism aspect of Paganism has failed. I have read a lot of the blog posts there, and some are extremely articulate about their perspective. I even chimed in a bit on John Beckett’s post, wanting to toss in my two very uneducated pence on the topic. Thus far, there have been a few equally articulate responses to the posts.

I won’t try to get into the science and stuff behind climate change. I just can’t do that, because I am fairly ignorant when it comes to matters of ecological science. I focused on business processes and technology when I was in my collegiate classes – a far cry from what is necessary to talk with any degree of intelligence on climate change. (Aside: some would even argue that there’s a lack of necessary capacity and capability to discuss anything in an intelligent manner on my part. Haters, just gotta love ’em)

And yet, I advocate that climate change is real. How can I believe in climate change when I cannot explain any aspect of it from a rational point of view. From personal observation, of course. I have lived here in Texas since the mid-1980s – with the exception of a few years at the front of the 1990s and at the end of that same decade. I do recall the summers of then – and these were not nearly as hot as today. We would see summer temps in the high 90s, and about ten 100s over the entire Summer. And that’s if it was a particularly hot Summer. We had our share of hardcore thunderstorms, as well. But not nearly the number that seem to show up here these days. Now, is that a scientific assessment? Nope, and I won’t claim it to be such. Its just me remembering the past and comparing it to the present. I have read a lot on climate change as well. A lot of the science is, admittedly, over my head. But what I have read, both pro and con, has helped me to the position of seeing climate change as something that is here.

Not a terribly scientific perspective, I agree. But its the perspective I have come to. Please don’t try to explain climate change or disprove it to me. Once you start down the path of Environmental Science, my eyes will glaze over, and I will zone out and begin to think about how to balance my checkbook. Hardcore sciences is not something that excites me, nor is it something that will hold my attention for a long period of time.

Anyways, back to the topic. Has the Pagan Environmental movement failed? Maybe. I can’t be sure that the Pagans of today would agree with the Pagans of yesteryear over what would be a “successful” move within the area of Environmentalism. Just as I believe that the Paganism of today, might not be an acceptable definition of “growth” for the Pagans of yesteryear. I can’t speak for the Pagans that came before and where their mindset is. Nor can I speak for the mindset of the Pagans that are yet to trod this Path. In all honest, I can’t even speak for the Pagans of today. I can – however – speak for me and where I am right now.

Full Trash CanWe live in a disposable, consumeristic world. People consume, consume, consume. And to make their consumption easier, manufacturers create products that are cheaper, and far more disposable. I was reminded of this in the conversation thread I was having on John’s post. The next morning was trash pickup day in my neighborhood. Talk about a moment of synchronicity. As I carried my half-empty hefty Cinch-sack out to the curb, and rolled my overflowing Recycling bucket out behind it – I took a glimpse down my very short street here in Suburban America. Each of my neighbors had multiple trash sacks set out by the curb. Only two others had recycle bins out as well. One of them, I knew was filled with glass beer bottles. Every week, if I am home at the time of pickup, the clinking of those bottles is extremely loud as they are loaded into the recycling truck. But I mentally took note of the differences between myself and my neighbors in the amount of trash. A quick thought on the average was three bags to my one. One of my neighbors is a family of five. The others, however, have the same number of people living in their homes as mine: three. And yet, I was extremely outnumbered in terms of the amount of trash generated.

Now, my comment was concerning the amount of trash found around the Goatman’s bridge here in Corinth, and the lack of trash barrels available for people to dispose of their trash. Putting in trash containers may not ebb the tide of trash around the area, but its a start. I am currently lobbying the three town councils that maintain the trails to do just that – as well as organize a monthly trash pickup day for the communities, which I have already noted I would gladly volunteer for. None of this is going to do much to ebb the amount of trash that is currently found in the DFW metroplex, or even in the surrounding areas of Denton county. But I argue that its a start. Small steps first, then we can move into larger steps. To be honest, to get momentum in a movement of any kind, you have to start with motion, and then hope the inertia helps by taking hold.

Has the Pagan Environmental movement failed? If we measure that success or failure by the determination of an older generation of Pagans – then the answer may well be “yes”. has that movement failed to gain the inertia necessary to be effective. Sure it has. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t get behind the cart and start pushing again. Perhaps even more people will help get it moving, and perhaps that doesn’t happen. I do know this, if I don’t start pushing, the answer changes from “maybe” to a definite “yes” – and I would rather try helping the movement along with what little effort I can provide, than to sit to the wayside and talk about why the cart isn’t moving. Just my pair of pence…spend it how you see fit.

Opinion – Trashy Consumerism

Well, the Superbowl was last night. I think I watched about a quarter of the game. I have never been a big fan of American football. The most exciting parts for me is watching the kickers. The rest.  Meh. Kind of glad that it is over now. That means that I will not have to listen to everyone blather on about this “tactical point” in strategy or that “strategic point” in how to handle the next play. Plus, in less than two weeks, Major League Baseball begins Spring Training (!!!!), and that is a sport I am truly fanatical over.

Yesterday, however, we got a reminder that it is still winter – at least down here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro-mess. We had some sleet for a short period of time, which left a minor coating of ice on the ground. It will all be gone by this afternoon, provided the weather folks have got the forecast right. However, the temps will be low enough that I will need to drag my big coat out of the closet when I go to class tonight. Read on the news yesterday that the groundhog up in Pennsylvania saw his shadow and bolted back into his home. The “prediction” of more winter. Now, everyone seems to be grumbling about the groundhog’s prediction – and blaming him (even jokingly) for the extended winter forecast. I do not need to blame the groundhog. In fact, I do not need to blame anyone. This is a cycle of Nature. Which takes me to where I am thinking this morning.

Just a few years back, I remember the winter months starting somewhere around the end of October. The temperature would drop considerably, and we would typically have a light dusting of snow in mid-to-late December here in Texas. After that, the temperature would hover somewhere between 30F and 40F until mid March. But these last few years, we seem to have had yo-yo weather here. For instance, last night, our temperatures dipped into the teens, and the day before, we had been in the 60s. Now, I consider myself to be a casual observer of the weather, but I seem to recall a lot of patterns like this in the last few years. And I can only conclude that the weather cycles on this planet are trying to adjust…and I can only further conclude that it is us – human beings – that is the cause of the adjustment. Yes, for those of you that are allergic to former Vice President Al Gore – I am talking Global Warming here.

I am not writing this to debate the entire perspective of Global Warming. In fact, if I receive a response from someone wanting to debate the issue – I am quite likely to let the comment stand, and flat out ignore it. You – the reader – can make up your own mind about the causes of Global Warming or even if it exists. To be completely frank, I am not even sure that Global Warming is the correct term to utilize for what I believe. But I do believe that the wide variances in weather patterns, the occurrences of stronger, more violent weather conditions….these are all parts of the adjustments that have to be made to achieve balance. Furthermore, I am not saying that mankind’s manner of polluting the environment, over-use of the natural resources, and inability/lack-of-desire to even care about the effects of those actions, are the cause of the current change in weather patterns. I do believe that the changes we see would have happened naturally, just not at the rate of speed that we currently are experiencing. I do not have scientific facts to back up what I am saying here – only my own intuition. So, if you are looking to use cherry-picked “scientific” facts to blow holes in my theory – you probably could easily do so. Just as I could do the same thing with cherry-picked “scientific” data to prove that the purple-striped, and pink-polka-dotted hippopotamus will be making a comeback in the near future.

My point is not that we need to make drastic changes to help combat the environmental damage that has been done. The damage is done, and an extreme change in behavior may only cause more drastic changes. Nor am I saying that we need to stay the course and continue with our current behaviors. Again, I am no scientist here – I am just a Pagan living my daily life the best way that I can. Much like pendulum will swing wildly in a large arch in one direction when pushed, the reaction – the return arch of the swing, will also be large, just nearly as much. If we caught the pendulum in the high-point of its arch, and flung it back the other direction – the arch would be just as great, and have another reaction in the opposite direction. The goal was not to make the pendulum vacillate wildly in action/reaction to our second action – taken to combat the action/reaction of our first action. The goal was to slow the rate of action/reaction from the first action. (Aside – I know that may not make too much sense…but its the best I can do with my attempt to communicate this here, so hopefully, you are tracking this line of thought) Thus, I think an immediate and drastic action to slow the reaction to our initial action may cause a secondary – and potentially more damaging – reaction. In other words, I think we need to make slower, more pronounced changes singular changes to our behaviors.

For instance, in our modern age of technology, our modern age of production – I refuse to believe that we cannot package products in more effective ways to reduce the amount of waste that we create. For instance, we create tons of packaging that is not recyclable – styrofoam. We have drinking cups made from it at the fast food joints. We have containers for food in those same locations, that are made from it. Nearly every item I have ever purchased from an online retail location has come with those styrofoam packing peanuts inside the box to protect the item from damage. Well, everywhere except Amazon, which uses an air-filled plastic pillow, which can be recycled. We scream and moan about these companies following practices that discriminate against LGBT couples, or whether they are using GMO foods in their product. Yet, I have never heard a single complaint from anyone over the wasteful way that these same companies package their products. And just to take it a step further, inside the locations of these companies, I have rarely seen a recycling bin. Typically, there is only a trash bin located there, where EVERYTHING is placed. And I have not even started to contemplate the idea of what these companies do with unsold food product at the end of the day – which should, in my not-so-humble opinion – be donated to a local homeless shelter to help feed the people located there. Yes, its not the greatest food in the world, but something is far better than nothing for people who have nothing.

Full Trash CanWe – and I mean the royal “we” here – we are such a wasteful society. We over-indulge on nearly everything that we do. Its a part of our consumer-driven mentality. We get money, we must spend it. We are taught that habit when we are young – by our parents, by the advertising we see on the television, by our peer pressure to have the latest, greatest gadget. We generate so much waste – waste that can be recycled and repurposed, which is sent to a landfill instead. The landfill in the city/suburb located directly south of me, is taller than the five-story apartment complex near it. The landfill for my county is nearly four stories in height. I shudder to think how much of that is food that has been thrown away. Food that could have been repurposed as compost for assisting in growing more food, or that could have fed the needy in their time of need.

This is a big problem – our wasteful usage as a consumer-driven society. And one that I believe should be addressed by the companies out there – as well as the government. I do not know where your heart is in all of this, but I want to leave a sustainable planet for the future. I recycle. I try my very best not to waste food. But I am just one guy. What about you? They say a journey starts with a single step…how about a revolution in the way we think, the way we consume, the way we live on this planet??