Monday, January 19, 2009


Arguably the most eloquent case for biodiversity , sustainability and environmental justice has never been made clearer than in the words of Aldo Leopold when he wrote:

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

But is it possible to liberate nature and preserve its integrity without first liberating ourselves from discrimination and injustice? Of course not. But this time around there is more optimism in the air than at any other time. I know that the honeymoon would not last for long but maybe, just maybe this time will be different and this land will be really and truly made for you and me. Pete Seeger has managed to restore to the glorious Woody Guthrie song the two stanzas that have been excised for decades:

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.


We are all in your debt Pete Seeger for having the courage to use the above words as you lead thousands of US citizens in a sing along during the pre Obama inauguration festivities.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"But is it possible to liberate nature and preserve its integrity without first liberating ourselves from discrimination and injustice..."

As noted in the blog we certainly cannot. so many speak of the fact that we must be less destructive in the environment... but many cannot afford to do so. The poor of the world are more concerned with day to day survival and do not care if the tigers or dying and may even be killing them for their fur just to put food on their table. When we address the poverty of the world we will in turn be addressing the environment because people will not have to be concerned with feeding their families and can place priorities elsewhere.

Dandelion

Anonymous said...

Patriarchal capitalism is built on the theory that it is "ethical" ("necessary" even, for a civilization to survive) for society to be divided into a class system where a very privileged few may rise to the top and the rest flounder in poverty. As Dandelion said, those living in poverty cannot begin to care about the environment until their own needs have been met.

It should be mentioned, however (and I feel this should go without saying, but whatever), that the wealthy few in this world would be intrinsically opposed to ending poverty. Those at the top profit from human suffering, and, through this, environmental suffering as well.

Working to preserve our resources and the natural environments that support all life forms on this planet is important, but here we're hacking at a limb where we should be seeking the root.

What is the root cause of the environmental crisis? It is my personal belief that a clear line can be traced from the destruction of our natural environments to patriarchal capitalism.

The following documentary notes this better than I can:

Justicia Now!:
http://www.freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=225


-Katrina Miller, NYC Campus

Anonymous said...

And now... this. Wonderful.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99888903

-Katrina Miller, NYC Campus

Anonymous said...

I've been a believer in change and the paradigm shift way before I knew what an Obama was or what the definition of paradigm shift is. I think exactly what Aldo is talking about in terms of liberating ourselves first. I feel 'the people' meaning us not in the upper class or wealthy enough to live a separate life from the average etc. think that change is what Obama will do because that's what he says, and global warming will never affect us directly because science and government won't let that happen. But in my eyes, the truth is, Obama the man is not the change, (besides him being an obvious change) he's the rep of a new way of thinking and living. Nothing will change if we, meaning everyone, rich and poor, don't change how we go about our every day. Our goals have to be different. We have to be compassionate towards each other and nature. We have to act as if this wasn't made for us and it could all be taken away tomorrow. We can't just be big and bad and boisterous in our attitudes. We can't afford to still be wallowing in racism, sexism, ageism, all isms. We can't waste time disenfranchising people and leaving disparities as they are. We can't not raise our kids or not practice proper sexual health and awareness. We can't say God Bless America and mean bless only America. We can't rest on reputation or the doors that have been opened by the sacrifice of others before us. I've been poor, without food, or the chance to mobilize, and still I found it was extremely important for me to have a sense of integrity and be free of ignorance and bitterness. Because every one of us can affect something, especially those of us outside of the powerful. As I have read, dealing with an issue like population control coincides with dealing with employment availability, empowerment of women, family planning, education availability, reproductive health awareness, religion, foreign aid, and more. So dealing with one is dealing with it all. If those of us who may not be rich but can control our sexual health activities, education, employment, reproductive health, compassion, and integrity, then we should, as we speak out, and not just wait for the government to change what they set up. If those of us on the bottom who can, do, the top will eventually have to do the same. Just think did we go through the last 500 years to get to this point where a few of us can do whatever we want and in the end we're all killed by rising seas, famine, disease, drought, ignorance and negligence?

EMILY OTTOO from ENV 112 @ Pace

Anonymous said...

Humans have removed themselves from nature. This is why we are able to survive justify the things we do. We are willing to accept what the dollar represents yet we cannot respect the fact that we are in debt to nature(with an interest rate that is compounded annually).Some of us don't even realize what we are doing with our lives. We work for "valued" hours that we get "paid" for. But we in turn use this payment to then buy a spot in society. We pay for cars because walking is obsolete. We pay to live longer because death is so expensive. We pay for food and starve others. In essence, we are working to be accepted into society and in the end "pay" is just an idea...money is not real or substancial. It is only a tool used to gain compliance. In the end..being and educated member of this society costs so much that most of the population falls short because WE are not the priority but the money is. Nature is just another thing to be exploited...just as we have exploited others. Manifest Destiny
-Tia

Anonymous said...

You cannot change the system from within.

Fred Wolf

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