Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Intersections

The abundance of the earth is a gift that everyone should be able to share. Of course, in our society of private property, tradable pollution "rights," and disturbingly disproportionate access to food, services, education, and just about everything else you can imagine, we don't share equally. Not even close. I'm heartened to see that Grist has introduced a seven-week series on environmental justice focused on the intersection of poverty and the environment. From the introduction to the series:
"...poverty and environmental degradation go hand and hand in the United States as well. The lower your income in this country, the higher the likelihood that you will be exposed to toxics at home and on the job. The greater the risk that you will suffer from diseases -- ranging from asthma to cancer -- caused or exacerbated by environmental factors. The harder it will be for you to find and afford healthy food to put on your table. The less likely you are to live in a community that provides safe outdoor spaces for you and your family to enjoy. And, as recent history tragically exposed, the more vulnerable you are to environmental catastrophes, whether they are natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or human-made tragedies like the Exxon Valdez."

The series is in its first week and the theme is "Land and People." The idea is to explore the land where many Americans, including the poorest, live rather than focusing on the wildernesses and sacred spaces frequently associated with the environmental movement. There are virtual walking tours, articles about mountaintop removal and the impact on the people who live in affected areas, interviews with activists, and a bunch of other worthwhile links.

It's no use to try to separate issues of poverty and class from environmental degradation, just like we shouldn't isolate "issues" so that globalization goes in one basket, tuberculosis care in Haiti fits into another, mercury in breastmilk gets plopped into a third, and so on. Rather, we've got to look at the whole fabric of our way of life and ask ourselves whether our current structure serves life. I'm intensely interested in these interconnections. I like not having to align myself with just one cause or another. Instead, I try to keep that old web of life metaphor at the forefront of my daily thinking. It's my sanity-saver in these zany times.

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