NOTE: I’m not putting in any pictures of dead creatures, malls, or rivers the color of fire. These are too depressing. There are plenty of pictures of slaughtered animals, poisonous rivers, dead malls.

If you have the stomach for it, look them up. 

Forty years ago, I was the English-language editor at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. I worked there for almost five years during which we addressed issues of wastewater, air and soil management.

The country was still quite small. I think we had maybe 7 million people at that point. The scientific staff traveled from kibbutz to kibbutz, then to any other area that was under cultivation. The goal was trying to explain why it was so critical we stop using nitrogen-enriched fertilizer and start managing wastewater while finding ways to use it.

No one listened. My boss predicted we’d lose our aquifer by 1985. He was wrong. It was dead by 1983.

The point to this is not that I knew something secret and important about our climate before most people were really up to speed on the subject. The point is that we have known about the danger to our environment for at least 100 years. We have had better science and statistics about it for at least the past fifty.

We can loathe Trump for taking a desperately bad situation and making it worse at every possible opportunity. But the reality is that with or without Trump, the planetary climate madness we are seeing was going to happen anyway, no matter who was in office. Because we didn’t do nearly enough. This issue did not begin in 2016. Much of the worst damage was done in 1916 when we casually and carelessly dumped poison into our air, water, and land.

Since the 1970s when we declared “Earth Day,” we’ve done some good stuff. We didn’t do nothing, but we didn’t do enough. Not here. Not in China. Not in Europe. Not in South America or Africa or Australia.

We improved car emissions. We knocked out the smog in some major cities. We cleaned up some horribly polluted rivers. Some of us did our best to manage recyclables. Some places did better than others. We didn’t build enough plants to deal with the plastic and paper and we charged extra for products made from recycled materials — which was not what people expected. Reality notwithstanding, we didn’t expect to be charged a premium for recycled goods. A lot of places — like where we live — do not have “real” recycling. We don’t even have a dump much less a recycling plant.

Despite all arguments anyone cares to make, WE DID NOT DO ENOUGH. If we had done enough, we would not be where we currently are. 

The world’s population has grown exponentially everywhere. For every little green area we plow so we can build a condo or mall we don’t need, birds and other small animals die, often forever. In poor countries, you can’t blame them for trying to create farms to feed their people. Large mammals — like elephants — are antithetical to local farming.

Of course, most of the large mammals are murdered for worse reasons: fun. I have a venal hatred of “sport” killing. There’s nothing sporting about it and I think everyone who slaughters an animal that is disappearing deserves to die a similar death, but slower including a full understanding of why he is dying.

Then there’s all the drilling for oil — and the massive spillage in the arctic and the Gulf of Mexico — and add to that fracking. What could possibly go wrong with that?

I spent five years surrounded by nothing but environmental scientists. I edited their material, sent it to magazines for publication. Read the papers. Understood how important it was.

And for all of that, I didn’t understand. I didn’t imagine it would happen to me. That my world would change. That my birds would die. That insects that aren’t supposed to live in this climate would move in bringing with them diseases that would kill us. And our way of stopping the insects –which are the direct result of the climate change we’ve been denying or worse, ignoring — is poisoning everything.

It’s a planetary problem and it needs a planetary solution. It needs us to do the single thing we never successfully do. Work together for a common cause, even if we hate each other. It doesn’t matter how we feel or what our political system is. This is a planetary issue and we need a planet-size solution.

For all I know, we are beyond fixing it. Maybe we can ameliorate the process. Maybe we can stop building on every piece of ground we find. Maybe we can do something to create food for more people with less destruction to the earth. I don’t really have answers. I just know we are in serious trouble and aren’t addressing it.

Categories: Changing Seasons, climate change, Earth, Ecology, Marilyn Armstrong

Tags: , , , ,

36 replies

  1. Amen.
    What’s really shocking here is that you know so much already 40yrs ago. When most of us, me included, were absolutely ignorant of any of the upcoming and already developping dangers. About Earth Day I heard first on Flickr.
    Having some experience with various gardens I have and had, I can see how the number of flying, crawling, jumping creations is getting reduced, even though I try my best to feed and look out for them. And it’s never enough, what we do – and yet, we MUST do our best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The information has been around for a LONG time and how it can turned into fake science is a whole OTHER story. But yes, we do the best we can and if EVERYONE does the best they can, it might be enough. We hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hope dies last. Because hope drives action. While you are still trying to do anything, you are hoping. Regardless of how many things you try and fail, hope is what lets you try another thing.
        Only when you stop trying anything will hope leave you. Even then, though, hope doesn’t die. Until the last fragment of existence ceases to move, there will be ‘hope’ of a sort. And possibly even after that.
        Hope dies last, because the only way for hope to even possibly die is for there to be nothing else left.
        Alastair Meek (Autist – Manager of Autism Awareness Ass.) – BUT IT GOES FOR EVERYTHING NEEDING HOPE

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No we didn’t do enough, but we didn’t know what enough was, or would be. It’s futile to say “we should have done more.” That’s possibly always true. But we don’t have perfect knowledge of the future (or the past) and I invite anyone to consider how things might be now had we not done what we did and knew to do. “We learn by doing, what is there to know?” (Roethke, “The Waking”) For me, this kind of dark perspective is too often an excuse for resignation on the basis that we’re impotent, anyway. I don’t buy it. It’s always been — and always will be — a tug-o-war between X and Y factors. That is probably something that needs to be taken more seriously as a factor in any possibility for change for the good. Meanwhile we have Amazon sending me ecologically responsible laundry detergent in a cardboard box packed in a plastic mailer 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope it isn’t an excuse for resignation because we don’t have time for that. I’m just hoping we get hizzoner gone so the giant logjam in the road can be dislodged. I think more what I’m saying is that even those of us who really did know, or at least knew more than many others — we STILL didn’t really get it. Maybe it’s impossible to visualize or imagine something that has never happened. We tried and we got some stuff done. What we DIDN’T do is try TOGETHER.

      Can we? Is it even in our human DNA to work as a group despite our differences? Can we set aside politics and focus on getting this task moving?

      Remember the movie “The Graduate”?

      “Plastics, Benjamin. Plastics.”


      • Hopefully when Offal is no longer in office, and the shrieking child has made her point, we’ll have a fighting chance of getting our regulations back. You mentioned recycling — that’s something seriously damaged by Offal with China no longer taking our trash — or anyway as much of it — much less is being recycled and those clothing manufacturers who make a lot of recycled (and, sadly, upscale) clothing like Patagucci and LL Bean will raise their prices. I almost NEVER buy anything new. 1) I can’t afford it 2) eBay is like my own personal catalog. Whether we work together or alone, each of us doing what’s in our power will NEVER be nothing. Possibly it will never be EVERYTHING as long as such tremendous economic inequity exists between first and third world nations and there are people who truly do not believe there is anything wrong. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Of course you realize that Trump is the Messiah, the Chosen One, and has absolute power over all things including “climate change.” The only reason he hasn’t canceled climate change.., or fired it, is that he is using it to hold the rest of us “mere mortals” for ransom. If we all only bend to his will, it can all go away. The arctic ice will stop melting and re-freeze. The seas will stop rising. The rain forests will fully recover. Temperatures on the earth’s surface will stabilize. Science will be recognized as legitimate (maybe?). Young women will be eager to have “HIM” grope their nether parts and accept lower pay for the same work. Slavery will be re-instated (Yowser!). All accounts of Abraham Lincoln’s existence will be wiped from our history books forever. Life will be good, and “Amerikkka” will be “great” again.., Hallelujah!.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s true, every word. I know that and concur. I would only add that according to all the recent research I’ve done and my son, that the worst offenders are big business who care about that almighty dollar and who are doing the most damage to our earth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well that was depressing. Might have been your point too. No T-dump didn’t ‘start the fire”, but that twit hasn’t improved the situation either. Neither did his predecessor, nor the one before that nor … well you get it. NONE of those in ‘top’ jobs seem to care. Why should they? They won’t be the ones trying to survive the fall out of what we’ve done to our planet. We will. Me? I’m hoping for an early demise. I don’t want to see what will come. What has come is bad enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You are right, things are changing and fast. We’d better learn to adapt and fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We aren’t addressing it, especially those nations who need to. I read that the 60 nations who signed up to reduce carbon emissions together only represent 11% of the problem. China has 40% renewable energy, but the other 60% is carbon based, and although they are creating new solar farms every minute, it seems they are looking to do more coal mining too. In UK we have wasted 3 years over Brexit, and have a prime minister who is not remotely engaged with the issue. Only little Bhutan seems to be serving the world – carbon negative and off-setting other countrie’s carbon load with all their planting. Even Pakistan has planted 1 billion trees and plegded 10 billion more over the next 5 years. We in the industrialised countries who have made this mess should be utterly ashamed. There is no denying corporate greed and pillage, but we the people have allowed ourselves to be addicted to convenience, over-consumption and pretty much continuous distraction from reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We have individual states (some of which are bigger than many countries) that are working at it (California, but it’s such a big state — bigger than many nations and it has so many problems) — there’s an awful lot to work on. And there are all these corporate destruction organizations. Steven Seagal, who used to be a really bad actor gave up acting and spends ALL his time trying to reclaim West Virginia from mining companies. Occasionally he makes movies about it.

      Grisham writes books about it too. Man of these “lawyers/authors” were raised in the south and that is the place in this country that has been worst damaged. It’s hard to imagine it ever coming back.

      But it could — IF WE WORK TOGETHER.

      Beautiful states and countries have become tragedies. The HUGE oil spills in Alaska and the pipeline destruction in the Gulf of Mexico — and all over the world. The Monsanto explosions abroad and now, suddenly, here too. If I had one day as “the hand of God,” I’d take Monsanto and make them disappear. Then I’d do away with Exxon and maybe empty the oil out of the earth in the Middle East. Bet we’d learn to LOVE windmills.

      Greed isn’t good. If you think about the 10 Commandments, other than honoring God or one’s parents, the rest is greed. Coveting your neighbor’s ass, his “stuff,” his wife. His land. Gluttony is greed. Theft is greed. MURDER is greed. Lust is greed.

      It’s why I fear for us as a species. If we can’t work together, we won’t survive. We may manage to stretch our time on this planet a little longer, but we won’t make it. The problem is too big, too complicated, and frankly, too terrifying.

      Even getting people to pay an extra few dollars to get “green” power instead of oil/gas generated power — “You mean I might have to pay a little bit more?” And the kids who figure what the hell, politics is bullshit. Let’s go spend money at a mall somewhere. When I say we haven’t done enough, I’m not saying we did nothing, but OBVIOUSLY we didn’t do enough. I don’t need a pie chart to show me. There are more than enough countries to blame.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I hear you, Marilyn. What you say is quite true. What you have left out is that it is all due to greed. The population explosion has not been controlled because big business wanted new markets. It is only recently that they have realised that millions of people who live in poverty are not a market anyhow as they have no money to buy. The fracking, building and destruction are all for the personal gain of someone/s.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like those big, empty malls lurking around the state. We have them all over New England. Hundreds of destroyed wetlands and woods … for NOTHING. We have miles of unused railroad tracks and huge roads we built because someone thought we would someday need them while the roads we DO use are constantly bumper-to-bumper. And the WORST trains anywhere ever.

      We don’t seem to have the ability to plan in any sensible way. We don’t sit as groups and try to figure out how to make the future work. We just sell it all off to the highest (or lowest) bidder and live with the mess WE created.

      1973, the Blackstone was one of the three most polluted rivers in North America. Now, you can swim in many parts of it and there are loads of trout to catch. We’ve got herons and turtles (some really BIG turtles with amazing jaws proving teeth are just an improvement over really hard gums). Almost 70% of Massachusetts is forested today because the big farms have moved to Kansas and Iowa and other areas where the land is flat. That’s why I have all these birds — but you won’t see them many places. It’s because we live in the woods.

      We’ve got bobcats and raccoons and fishers and many more small mammals — and hopefully, the bats will return one day. We have deer and bears, though so far, the bears haven’t come to sit on our deck. Yet. And that’s because New England, having lost our mills and factories, isn’t crowded. Fewer people? Less pollution. They are beginning to tear down the old wrecks of malls and since we have no manufacturing except for Intel and some other high-tech places, our main kind of industry is medicine (MANY hospitals), universities and colleges, hotels, and sadly now, casinos.

      Still, it could be worse. It could be 100 years ago!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. What an amazing life you have had.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know about amazing, but I was willing to try things. I think everyone should try living abroad. It’s good to realize this isn’t the ONLY place to live. There are other places, other cultures, both better and worse.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you, Marilyn. I certainly share your frustration and fears for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really loathe Trump and all he supposedly stands for, but this mess took a lot longer than a couple of years. I think our most awful, devastating years were between the 1880s and 1920s. That’s when we REALLY polluted the land and rivers. It has taken 100 years to get the Blackstone and the Hudson alive again. It took a dozen years so that the sky over LA wasn’t yellow with smog. New York and Boston have clean horizons. But they are turning Texas into a sump, West Virginia, Alabama, Maine, Michigan, and Minnesota. And MORE. And that’s just THIS country.

      Liked by 2 people


  1. IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

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