There is a blog post at the end of this comic, I promise.
When I was eighteen or so I went shopping with a friend in the Queen Street area in Toronto. This was 1989 approximately, and these were the so called 'alternative' stores where you could find unique items, beaded wallets from Thailand, say, or Ecuadorean sweaters, or cool vintage clothes, stuff you wouldn't find at the mall where we lived, the boring Oshawa Centre.
While browsing I came across a t-shirt with a cute elephant on the front. Underneath it were the words:
The Environment. It's [bleep-ed]!
(But it used the real swear word, okay?)
I showed my friend, half joking. Should I get it?
Get it! Get it! she egged me on. She knew that while I had a rebel-ish heart I was ultimately a goody goody who would never/will never wear a shirt with profanity on it. Ever.
But the swearing wasn't the only reason for my ultimate NO. I remember staring at for a while, wondering if I could actually wear it and claim such a defeatist statement. It was just too negative. To wear it would be to align with it, to believe it true. I couldn't do it.
But that shirt still haunts me. I pull it off the hanger in my mind every now and then, and consider its message...
I thought of it as I read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.
Having decided that my environmental naïveté had to end, I wanted to read more about environmental issues. For my first foray, I chose a book that many consider the starting point for the environmental movement, an environmental classic.
She published it in 1962 and I'm reading it in 2015.
I wonder if it will seem quaint, I thought, cracking it open. You know, being so old.
But a few chapters in I realized the book was not outdated. It's precepts remain true today--with a vengeance. 50+ years on!
Here is her book in a nutshell: if you put nasty chemicals (like DDT) in the earth, there will be consequences...and due to the interconnectivity of nature, chemicals put in one spot will not stay put, they will move and mingle in unpredictable ways, and mix up with god knows what other kinds of chemicals that have likewise moved around...all with devastating effects through out the cycle of life.
She cites many, many instances where this is so.
Jump to 2015 and little ol' me reading this while also finding out about the bees & neonic insecticides ...or the toxin-soaking plastic micro beads ...or the triclosan in antibacterial products...
If Rachel Carson were alive today would she not be shaking her fist at the sky, shouting: didn't anyone read my book?
The t-shirt was right. The Environment IS [bleep-ed]!
Fifty years later and we're still doing the same things. Hopeless!
But Rachel Carson doesn't just document all the (many) ways humanity screwed up the natural world (the one we keep forgetting we are dependent upon). She does list (some) ways in which we got it right. Ways we were more patient in our approach, and gentler, and got the result we were after without killing off creatures and sending shock ways reverberating thru the cycle of life.
It can be done.
So is there hope or not? Do I wear that t shirt in my mind or not?
Deciding to engage with Eco issues means deciding not to wear that T-shirt. Don't be a downer! Don't go over to the dark side! (This is a Jedi mind set. Absolutely it is.)
Step one: Accept there's a problem. Step two: Don't let it get you down!
Rachel Carson knew things could change. She saw it when it happened. She wrote her book to show the wrong path vs. right path. There is a right path. The path exists.
Stay positive. Stay positive. Stay positive.