Monday, June 7, 2010

Paradise Loss

We all lead busier and busier lives and sometimes it just seems easier to disregard, bypass and just NOT THINK ABOUT some of the bigger and more unmanageable phenomena that take place in the world around us.  And also, since there are other places where information is disseminated and discussed, it sometimes seems less necessary to use the blog as as an additional forum for addressing these subjects.  But today, stopping in to vist Little Augury, I found the link to The Errant Aesthete's post about the (Western Hemisphere) Gulf Nightmare.  What else can you call it?  (As opposed to the Middle East Gulf Nightmare which is equally endlessly ongoing and illogical!)  I think EA's post was beautifully done.  And deserved my acknowledgement at least.  

When I was a younger person and it was announced that there was a hole in the ozone layer, I had serious conversations with myself and eventually my husband, about it.  As the hole grew only larger, I made the decision not to bring more children into the world.  I did not feel very hopeful about what it was that I would leave them.  How could I look them in the eye and encourage them to be "optimistic"?  And have faith in their leaders and their fellow man?  Or even assure them that their lonely actions could make a difference?

I do not believe that this disaster in the Gulf was entirely accidental.  I think that if ONE person had been stopped, if THOUSANDS of people had had better leaders and bosses, if MILLIONS of people had made different choices, a disaster like this spill in the Gulf might not have happened.  I believe that it is a disaster that has been organized by negligence, arrogance, ignorance, and corruption over many many years.

Am I so wrong?

I just read a very depressing article in the New Yorker ("The Inventor's Dilemna") about Saul Griffith, a genius ex-MIT environmentalist/inventor who more or less now believes that the cost of recreating our infrastructure in America along "green" lines is prohibitive, not simply dollar wise, but that the impact to the environment of getting to that place would be gravely destructive in itself.  Which means that our little blue marble is already THAT FRAGILE and that vulnerable that it could not sustain the development and resource harvesting necessary.  He believes that the only concrete hope for us, and for his own child, is to reduce what he and his family consumes.  And persuade his friends to do the same.

I often have a laugh and say that the Chinese were the original environmentalists.  We hate waste and try to squeeze every little last bit of value out of whatever it is that we own.  We turn off lights pathologically and wear some clothes till they are embarassing, reuse and rewash our ziploc bags, hoard bits of string, rubber bands and wrapping paper, pack our dishwashers too tight, and use and savor every piece of an animal (including it's eyes) because we are loathe to have any little thing go to waste.  Many of us are very very careful about what we spend our money on.  If we buy something, we expect it to LAST!  A LONG TIME!  That is changing dramatically already in the new China.  But I nevertheless feel that some of us Chinese (and children of the Depression - your grandparents and great-grandparents and people born outside of American privilege and plenty) have had some very good habits (if comical) ingrained in us.

REUSE RECYCLE AND REPURPOSE is becoming a tired cliche already.  But I honor it.  Can we find a new way to say it?  To keep it a fresh and energizing and inspiring idea?  A new way to imagine it?  A new way to live it?

As if our lives depended on it!  Because they do.

What are your ideas?  What can you live better without?  Yes, I AM.  SOMEONE ELSE!  Asking it AGAIN!


  1. well... we own 2 hybrid cars, get our veggies local, organic and delivered to support farms and reduce greenhouse emissions. I buy practically nothing frozen for the same reason. I use neither paper nor plastic. My showers are 5 minutes or less. We're installing solar panels to our roof soon. I won't use plastic bottles.... the list goes on and i'm thrilled with my little effort. But nothing is enough or will ever be as long as the bullshit goes on on such a large scale. Great post dear.

  2. Bravo Mlle Paradis... from the post title...(clever given your own blog title) ... to the last word you typed here I say bravo! bravo! bravo!
    Why it is so wonderful to read and one doesn't get that "oh no - not this again" feeling is because you are saying it you bring together a series of quite separate thoughts, things you've read, and ponder, over time, a long time in some cases - and you have woven something of truth, conviction and even celebratory if you consider the family /cultural origins you speak of.
    Best thing I did 2 years ago was move to live with with family, rather than sustain a separate existance for one in another city. Living alone and you have (if lucky) one house, one car, ones series of white goods and appliances and even though I did at times share all that with students, or someone needing a place for a while and so on... its still privileged and unecessary in some clear ways.
    I could see the startling statistics of single home dwellers adding up as this phenomenon greaw and I thought of all the extra resources needed to sustain this.
    Now I share a home where there is solar electricity, its a warmer climate, every resource is shared and public transport abounds - the 'sharing and caring' is a WHOLE lot more productive, satisfying and life-enhancing - certainly in my case. It took a change of location and willingness to start again...but it makes me think of all the rearrangements we could do that would be intensely creative if we think hard enough about where to be and what to be doing.
    I could say more...but..enough for now...
    Thanks you for taking the soap box now MP...its was really upifting actually! Frankly I like to know I inhabit the planet with people who care!!
    cyber xo

  3. you both inspire me. what little we can do, is as corine says so little compared to the powers that overwhelm. but what little we can do can yet be something. it's just about taking those steps.