Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Speed of Green


Yesterday we received the first copy of a year's subscription to ReadyMade Magazine, a gift from Zak and Mandy. They obviously know us well. :)

James or Cathy kindly deliver mail too large to fit into our post box. When James brought ReadyMade to the door yesterday he admitted lingering on the way to make a quick assessment of its articles and was as excited as we were by its contents. Guess we'll have to share our copy with them once we've scoured every word several times.

The entire premise of this neat little magazine is reuse, recycle, and green it up. With the continuing media coverage (at last!) over climate change, and some kind of "green project" being discussed everywhere you turn I got to thinking about the evolution of the green movement itself.

I was in high school when I read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Carson could be called the Mother of the green movement, because she was the first to recognize and publicize the harmful effects of DDT, which was used everywhere without the slightest caution by the 1940s. Tony's family lived in North Africa when he was a small boy. His mother said she (and all her European friends) regularly dusted DDT into their bedding, clothing, drawers, kitchen drawers, along every baseboard. About the only place they didn't deliberately add it was to their food.

When I read Silent Spring I felt despair, deep deep despair. I spent a goodly part of my childhood as free as a colt, poking along stream beds, lying flat on my belly peering into pools, wading through meadows chest deep in grass, curled up in or under a tree, laying against sun-warmed rocks. I felt a part of all I explored, as much as a creature of nature as the leaves, fish and animals. I couldn't bear the idea that we were doing them harm.

Reading The Silent Spring made me green, but I didn't realize it at the time. I was never a hippie. While the hippies danced on the streets of San Francisco, shared their joints (and their bacteria) I married, worked, and had a little baby boy who was (and remains) one of the lights of my life. I remember a particular moment. Ian was perhaps six or seven months old. He was damp and sweet from the bath and when I toweled him off and picked him up he threw his little arm around my neck and laid his head on my shoulder and just relaxed totally into my arms. I thought that if I lived 100 years I'd never ever experience again the intensity of happiness I felt at that moment. I have of course, overall I have had a very happy life, but such moments of pure unallied joy don't come often.

My generation has largely sold out. Many feel they can acquire their way to happiness and contentment and have gone about trying to do so. I can tell them that it isn't true, and unbridled acquisition carries a huge price tag. When someone says, "I gave the earth for XXXX", it's often more true than they realize.

It's taken 40+ years for the message of The Silent Spring to finally filter into the consciousness of perhaps half the population. But the green consciousness finally has powerful allies. The greening of the First World has begun despite the resistance of politicians like George W. Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, both under the thumb of oil and gas interests. Both say we can't meet Kyoto targets, while the City government of Toronto, Canada's largest city, has already met and far exceeded the Kyoto target by reducing their greenhouse emissions well below the 1990 levels.

Within a generation Green will be the only acceptable way to be. Perhaps we will rethink our mass consumerism and materialistic standards and realize that we do not own the earth, we are only a part of the symbiotic relationship all creatures have worked out together over millions of years. Moments of pure joy, for all creatures, can continue.

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