May 30, 2008

Indians know global warming

Russell:  Animal insanityGore tells us there are three sticking points in talking to people about global warming. (1) It doesn't exist. (2) It exists but it is not caused by human beings, but is rather part of a natural cycle. (3) It exists and is caused by human beings, but the problem is so huge we really can't do anything about it.

Most Indians, I quickly discovered, breeze right past (1) and (2). They have already noticed that for some years now the weather has been out of whack. They have blood memories of major ecological catastrophes caused by the settlers long before the term "ecological" was coined. The Kiowa know that human beings caused the buffalo to go away. Indians in the Pacific Northwest have been missing the salmon, and they understand it's not because the salmon just decided to leave.
And:That third problem has a peculiar spin in Indian country. It's not so much that nothing can be done as an attitude that we are not responsible and therefore it is not our problem. The white man broke it and he should fix it.

The Indian spin is certainly true, but the fact of the matter is that fixing it is everybody's problem, whether that's fair or not. It's also true enough, as the naysayers use Indians to make fun of environmental progress, that if we all lived in tipis and gave up electricity and air conditioning and went back to riding horses, our carbon footprints would diminish considerably. Admitting to the truth in that bit of ridicule does not mean an 18th century lifestyle is what will be required.

It's true that we will have to give up some things to maintain the sort of habitat to which humans have adapted, but it's up to us which things to give up. The main thing we have to give up is greed. Every human being, every family, city, state, tribal nation or continent, has a "carbon footprint," an amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere because we live and because of how we have chosen to live.

Human beings in the U.S. have the largest carbon footprints in the world. Can anyone suggest a moral justification for this? Suppose you have a pond on land owned by three families jointly and it can produce a hundred pounds of fish a year without killing off the fish. Should one family get more fish per person than the others? It's that simple in moral terms.
Comment:  Exactly. But giving up greed means giving up what makes us uniquely American.

For more on the subject, see Ecological Indian Talk.

Below:  Some of the few remaining salmon. Non-Indians have depleted the ocean's stocks so badly that the US government has banned salmon fishing along much of the Pacific coast. Incredibly, we're running out of fish.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
So, fixing global warming is everybody's problem. But everybody did not cause it. writerfella fully is aware of the 'Chinese Justice' principle underlying such a statement. A prime example can be illustrated in that Oklahoma City recently held a sales tax election to finance the hosting of a pro basketball franchise now called the Seattle Sonics. EVERYBODY will be paying that sales tax increase, most especially those who never will be able to afford $80+ game tickets or even more astronomical season tickets. As per usual, the rich will get richer and the poor...
By the bye, 'Chinese Justice' is that, if one in a hundred is guilty, execute all one hundred and you'll get your man.
All Best
Russ Bates