Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Respecting Our World Results In Greater Self Respect

When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.—Aldo Leopold

What is true to live in America today? We are a nation of $18 trillion dollars of personal debt. In the last few years we have accumulated an additional $260 billion dollars of foreign deficit to the $1.5 trillion dollars already owed. We continue to sink further into this black hole. We live in a land where our government has subcontracted (outsourced) energy, environmental, labor, health and even our voting machines to private interests. Inequality, injustice, and inhumanity seem to be the by-products of a nation that generates 18 billion tons of materials each, but we are unable to measure how regrettable our nation's greed impacts on those less fortunate—especially the land and its creatures. We are facing an inner form of poverty by the denial implicit in our actions.

Our very democracy is in question since our quality of life reflects are country's inability to be fully honest with itself. Our addiction to material things has created a culture of denial. As an alcoholic who bottoms out, we must undergo some form of intervention and rehabilitation. We must get past our "affluence and effluence." We need to undergo a moral balance sheet to undergo a national inventory, and also acknowledge there must be a bottom line to our consumer driven insanity.

Recovery = Discovery: All I have control over are my own self-choices. Creating sacred relationship gives me both greater purpose and a richer life. When I remember my interconnection with the earth, I feel a profound sense of joy. All indigenous beliefs do not separate themselves from their surroundings. Understanding my link with all things provides me with a sense of harmony and well being. When I expand my consciousness and am aware of my interdependency with everyone and everything in this world, I am liberated from my ego self. Can we deny our dependency upon this world to survive? Simply, the world is a greater extension of ourselves. Can we possibly deny this link? If we separate ourselves from our world, then we disconnect our soul from our own very nature.

We come from the land; we must breathe, eat, drink, and eventually return to this earth. Modern life has created many illusions that contradict our true relationship by placing us indoors most of the time. We are hardly ever in nature. Any interaction with our natural environment represents our coming back to our first home.

Shakespeare said, action is eloquence. Our decision-making process allows us the possibility for new freedom. Any action that defends our environment is similar to a mother protecting her child. Harmony in this world is not about sacrifice but demonstrating appreciation for our Gaia who encompasses us. As we make the shift from being consumers to becoming true citizens, we can excel to a higher level of democracy, particularly by motivating others to take action. As each one of us develops greater compassion, wonder, sensitivity, respectfulness, courage, love, appreciation, tenacity, and gratitude, we can fully engage in the kind of stewardship that is calling to us now.

A new dimension of our environmental mindset sees that trees have equal standing with people. Without the one there can not be the other. Deforestation, stripping mountaintops, land filling wetlands, and numerous other forms of reckless environmental exploitation may satisfy human needs in the short run, but will rob future generations of life. An emerging spirit intent on improving our environment will stimulate life-affirming and life enhancing choices.

Our surroundings provide us with both our physical needs (drinking water, garden soil and air to breath) as well as aesthetic and recreational benefits. It benefits us, therefore, to preserve these benefits; it so obviously makes moral sense. Such a natural relationship is so meaningful that, for many individuals, it borders on worship and divinity.

Conserving, preserving and protecting our environment is tied to the very notion of human excellence. Humans can demonstrate their virtue and cause the human experience to flourish by promoting a healthier relationship with our planet. Just a simple act like riding a bicycle instead of driving a car serves to better our world. Any action that directly promotes the well being of the larger ecological community serves to show our gratitude for the earth. Any choices we make that will lessen, for example, the threat of further habitation fragmentation and biodiversity loss, represent investments in resources for the future. Any way we can better this planet directly betters ourselves.

We all act as environmental role models when we choose to become sustainable in our everyday lives. By engaging in a greater environmental ethic, we can feel certain we are doing the right thing, and for the right reasons. Moreover, environmental virtue provides the sensitivity and wisdom necessary for incorporating action-guiding rules and principles to concrete situations. Developing sensitivity is a requirement in determining which rules or principles are applicable to a specific situation. And out of this sensitivity, we will know which course of action is recommended given the nature of any crisis that will arise. Juggling between conflicting moral dilemmas, we must value a more wholesome lifestyle if we are going to prosper in these very stressful times. The more we show respect for our surroundings, the greater self-respect we will behold!

Freedom Is a Green Diet

What life choices we make is linked to our very freedom. We Americans must become lean and green. A green liberation movement will show us how we can become more responsible, and how we can grow our ability to be ecologically responsive. Simply, if we engage in wholesome action that is beneficial to all, we become less imprisoned by our harmful habits. We must shift from being consumers to becoming conservers. We must embrace a green diet, lessening both our waste and waists.

Yes, we must eat more GREENS! This is rabbit food not rabid food to lessen our country's chances of HEART ATTACK. An ethic of obesity must now change to a more wholesome diet for the sake of the planet. When we take care of the world, we help ourselves. Since what goes around, comes around, our individual actions directly have consequences that reflect back on us. Over-consuming on our planet creates lots of personal and global suffering besides breaking the collective heart.

The results of human overindulgence are clear. Excessive overeating can lead not only to obesity, but also to all other health dangers that result from obesity—a fact well documented. Four of our leading causes of death in America are related to overweight, poor diet and lack of exercise. These include the three leading closely related causes of death—heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Nature deficit syndrome is another health issue. As we become more disconnected from our ecosystems we participate less often in various enjoyable physical activities. Less physical activity results in less energy, and a vicious cycle of declining physical activity and health occurs.

As a responsible society, we must prevent a double-standard where we say one thing but act differently. To proclaim that we support a reduction of global warming, and then to purchase a car that is energy inefficient, is hypocritical. We waste our good drinking water to make our lawns greener. We buy bottle water, thereby creating billions of plastic bottles. To be truly free, our deeds must be consistent with our words. If we give our best to the world, we will enjoy many happy returns!

Today's culture provides us many opportunities to reduce waste by simply reducing our consumption. Less can become best! Using less food, water, paper, plastic, oil and any other natural resource just requires an awakening that all things are valuable. Walking, using public transportation, or riding a bicycle can result in a greater sense of belonging to our community. We must not reinforce consumerism, but realize the psychic benefits of sustainable citizenship. Can we develop new environmental behavior based on supporting biological needs, instead of reinforcing greed and apathy?

The fundament human challenge is how we perceive our environment. Are we are separate from or a part of our planet? A tangle of pathology happens because we keep thinking we need more material things to feed our anxiety, and because we feel threatened by our natural world. Many environmentally minded individuals are raising America's consciousness to address climate change and other ecological concerns. We can become reconnected with life, and less anxious.

America's very pursuit of happiness is in question. We the people are the precious agents; only we can preserve our land and our spirit. The United States cannot afford to create more CO2, as well as all the other pollutants impacting not only our well being but life itself. We can lead others by example, so that India, China and others may collectively prosper by a reduced carbon path. Such preservation is vital to our sanity, our peace, and the possibility of a promising future.

In our collective pursuit of happiness, we must understand how we create global suffering. There are very serious human consequences when we engage in destructive habits whose roots are greed, arrogance and indifference. We need to see beyond the price of things, we need to value of nature's intrinsic worth—a worth that may be expressed more in aesthetic or spiritual terms.

Our consciousness must evolve to the point where we see ecological persuasions that make sense to our human self-interest. Then a connection can be made wherein we know that human health is a part of our ecosphere. We can see our world as a greater extension of ourselves when we become deeply in touch with nature and life. Our human survival depends on a healthy environment that preserves the native flora and fauna. To flourish in our physical environment humans must create healthy boundaries. This need is a moral concern since any self-interest that does not take into account the larger world, has serious ethical questions.

As we lessen our desire to consume, we find a new liberation. As we curb our obsessive hunger, a new form of prosperity will unfold. Our waste of oil, coal, water, metals, and other resources threatens America's democracy. It is both self destructive and globally reckless to over-consume.

There is a strong connection between increased well being, happiness and our national security. Thrift, generosity, sharing and other wholesome measures promote freedom. Wasteful consumption violates the very values this nation was founded on. We have a choice to become free. Our spiritual survival is dependent on our understanding of our connection with the earth and our appropriate responses. Such action is an act of kindness that benefits all things. Courage becomes evident only when we quiet our minds and listen to our hearts. Once we show a reverence for conserving can we then begin to celebrate. Let's take the H from the end of eartH and place in front spelling Heart, since they are one and the same!

Saving American Oil: Beknighted States of Hysteria

On December 10th, former Vice President, Al Gore said in his acceptance speech for his Nobel Peace Prize, “So today, we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer.” In The United States, we can certainly better use and conserve our oil. Each year we use hundreds of billion gallons of the world’s petroleum supplies. Yearly, Americans use over 7 billion barrels of oil products. Since the USA constitutes 4% of the world’s population, uses over 25 % of the world’s oil, and produces 22% of climate-altering CO2, surely we must assume responsibility for the use and conservation of this precious, and finite, resource.

Just five days earlier, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a bill (S.2191) to address climate change establishing a national cap-and-trade system to limit the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 70 percent of 2005 levels by 2050, thanks to the leadership of one lone Republican, Senator, JohnWarner who is retiring from my home state. He commented, “The United States simply has to lead on this issue. We are the superpower in the world, and we've got to use our status.”

Now in this same week, you would hope the Democrats, who have a majority in Congress, would pass better fuel efficiency standards: knowing Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (called CAFÉ) is a no-brainer. There are many reasons why CAFÉ standards have failed in the past. Both auto manufacturers and unions have opposed attempts to impose higher fuel-efficiency standards because they insist that this conservation measure would cut manufacturing jobs. Do we know today how many American jobs serve to conserve oil instead of wasting it?

The powerful Washington lobby currently offset their low mileage trucks and SUVs with cars that sell for far less but get better mileage. So automakers do not want a provision to separate cars and trucks from this 35-mpg requirement and changing their present fleet-wide average, a practice that the Senate bill would stop. Carmakers also have an advocate, Chairman John Dingell of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His district is home to Ford Motors. Dingell advocates that trucks and cars must continue to be treated differently when considering fuel efficiency for economic reasons.

We can do better. A recent report released by Citi's Equity & Debt Research group1 explored the five-year earnings impacts of changes to the CAFE program. This report found that stricter fuel efficiency standards would result in most automakers' earnings largely unaffected by the CAFE standards in the 2012 time horizon. Also some companies, like GM, could gain as much as $0.25 per share. Finally such CAFÉ standards can be implemented "with modest additions of existing technologies" and will likely be "most beneficial to GM and least beneficial to Chrysler."

I am ashamed at how we in the USA continue wasting our black gold. Remember the oil crisis in the late 70’s? Back, in 1981 I helped build a used oil recycling plant that now has recycled over a hundred million gallons of old crankcase oil into new oil. Back then I bought my first new car--a Toyota Starlet that got 42 miles per gallon on the highway. It seemed the right thing to do.

Yes I am upset! On average, every man, woman and child in the United States uses three gallons of oil every day. As a nation, we daily consume 20 million barrels of oil or 840 million gallons. One trillion gallons of oilfield waste we inject into deep wells, in addition to the 3 billion tons of oil and gas wastes we generate yearly by our oil and gas exploration and production in the USA. One-sixth of the world's oil production is used for transportation purposes in the United States. Transportation accounts for two out of three of those gallons. Almost 300 million barrels of oil could be saved each year by raising U.S. auto-efficiency standards by 2.75 miles per gallon. If the tires of all cars on U.S. roads were properly inflated, it would save an estimated 2 billion gallons of gas each year. [2]

Just look at a simple thing like traffic congestion that wastes over 2 billion gallons of fuel each year. Just in Northern Virginia, we collectively drive 42 million miles each day. In 1980, 64.4 percent of us drove to work alone; in 2000 it was 75.7 percent. Carpooling dipped from 19.7 percent to 12.2 percent in the same years. Transit use went from 6.2 percent to 4.6 percent, while walking dropped from 5.6 percent to 2.9 percent. Today over 60 percent our oil is imported from OPEC, while in 1980, it was 37 percent showing another alarming trend [3].

We may face another 100 million American residents in the next 35 years. Such growth is frightening. Now let’s see what becomes of Senate and House CAFE legislation. Can we boost vehicle mileage standards by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 or maybe earlier? CAFÉ also calls for the standards to be progressively implemented starting with the 2011 model year. How much oil Americans can conserve depends only on when enough citizens become outraged and demand action, or we run dry. If India and China follow our example then watch out.

Senator Dirksen, whom one of the senate buildings is named after, once said, “The oil can is mightier than the sword.” Now we Americans face a deadly world neighborhood. We have to play a game of kick the can, but now with an oil drum. Yes, we are red, white and blue petro-addicts. We need serious treatment with “Oil Anonymous” meetings everywhere to work on our denial, inventory and salvation. We certainly need help from a higher power. I pray we recover and do better than we did since our first oil crisis 30 years ago. It took 125 years to consume the first trillion barrels of oil. It's estimated that the next trillion will be used up in just 30 years. Isn’t it healthy if we became honest with ourselves and discover what economy truly means?