Commentary: our flat earth: a call for environmental sanity.

Author:Stephens, Dale
Position::COMMENTARY - Essay

Always there have been hot days, so I can't vouch for global warming but I'd lay money on the fact the world is getting flat. It takes a few times passing through my Ripon, Wisconsin neighborhood but eventually I see it; something has changed, the sky is closer, things are opened up to heat and glare. It is astonishing how adept we are at taking away from our natural environment. New homes and businesses are a subtraction, cement flattens, power lines expose with belligerence what is green and living, garbage spreads ugliness, trees are cut down for no other reason than that a land owner is tired of raking up leaves and acorns, or a half-a-hundred of them are lost at once when a road is improved, areas are shorn of tall grass and flowers on a cutting schedule.

The sound of a chainsaw makes me painfully conscious of loss. Early American Indians were astonished and dismayed by the level of destruction we brought upon the land. 160 years ago, native species such as American buffalo were being eradicated, forests leveled for mining and farming to make way for trains and roads and towns, timber disappeared from around waterways to provide wood for steamboats. Evidence of an industrial revolution was in full swing then but now damage is infinitely more pronounced.


To the Indians, it was a clear message: the earth was suffering and the Great Spirit dying. The rest of us may at last be catching on. Oh, sure, a small percentage of scientists talk of weather cycles and advocate business as usual but this minority clearly works another agenda. From what I see in my community and elsewhere this philosophy is dangerous, even criminal. It points to basic values uprooted and tossed on the burn pile where short-term financial gain is the only consideration.

I react to development not as a homeowner or breadwinner with an eye toward economic opportunity but as a steward of nature. Development in the language of the natural world is destruction. It is obvious we need an environmental revolution, a time of change to rival the renaissance. We will have to change our habits and perhaps our very natures to survive. But how will we stop the dirty tricks when we have been at them for so long? The robber barons make treaties with us now. It always was a question of land and who profits from it. And even at this critical time it is hard to speak up.

Living things are not valued in the language of the...

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