Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Planet of the Humans

Planet of the Humans 

My brother told me about this documentary "Planet of the Humans" about a month ago. I hate-watched it for about 30 minutes before trying to fall asleep then came back to finish it the next day. After having time to reflect on it and think more deeply about the points the filmmaker, Jeff Gibbs, brings up I think it is a good thing this is out there. My fear is that it will be used by fossil fuel apologists to rationalize a same-old-same-old approach to everyday life. I think the subtleties of the "deep ecologist" may be lost in an "I told you so" frenzy.

Watching this brings me back several years to my friend Nancy's house in Fort Collins, CO when I sat with her and other Green Party members to discuss the 2008 election. It was warm cozy and very grassroots. We discussed local ecological issues and bonded over shared concerns for the environment and the rising carbon dioxide levels on planet earth. In that living room, there were many similar perspectives to the activists presented in Planet of the Humans. People concerned with a gimickification of environmental causes to make a buck, aka green-washing. Some had made names for themselves calling out the hypocrisy of local "Green" businesses (like "Wind-Powered and Employee-Owned" New Belgium Brewing) for espousing one set of beliefs and only sticking to them enough to maintain a verdant veneer while engaging in mostly fossil fuel-driven business.

Through all of this, I think coming back to the first and hardest "R" of the three R's. REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. The thing to keep in mind is that billions of dollars flow into attempting to steer the narrative around these issues. NPR recently pointed out that the plastics industry essentially lied to the public for years singing praises to "Recycling" only to improve their bottom line. Doing the "right" thing when it comes to climate action will continue to be the difficult thing. I argue and have argued that those individual actions are vanishingly significant without state-sponsored incentives that make them more widespread. Just look at what recycling is in the USA. We pour huge amounts of fossil fuel energy into melting down and reforming new products from old rather than just reusing them as is. When I traveled to Germany in fall 2011 I was so impressed that the local breweries actually reused their emptied bottles rather than manufacturing new bottles each time. Yes, we do sometimes use growlers here in the US but single-use bottles and cans rule supreme.

Like many things, I think it will take a generational turn-over to change things in a substantial way. But if we all just start doing things the way the previous generation did things then we are missing an opportunity to flip the script.

 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Four Dead in Ohio

On this day 50 years ago 4 unarmed college students were gunned down by the Ohio National Guard for protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Jeffrey Glenn Miller; age 20; 265 ft (81 m) shot through the mouth; killed instantly Allison B. Krause; age 19; 343 ft (105 m) fatal left chest wound; died later that day William Knox Schroeder; age 19; 382 ft (116 m) fatal chest wound; died almost an hour later in a local hospital while undergoing surgery Sandra Lee Scheuer; age 20; 390 ft (120 m) fatal neck wound; died a few minutes later from loss of blood (source: Wikipedia)