Nancy Oden



Corporate greed threatens the Earth's very existence

By Nancy Oden

Source:BANGOR DAILY NEWS (BANGOR, MAINE Saturday, 02/15/1992Edition: ALL

We know Earth is in a mess. You and I are not the poisoners or destroyers, but we're the ones suffering the consequences. Unfortunately, we have almost no say in decisions affecting our woods, air, and water. Industry and their government make all major decisions today, not you and I. Unless we get control soon, we're going to lose our only home. Earth.

What have we got here, anyway?

Holes in the ozone layer letting in radiation which will give us cancers, blind us, and damage our immune systems.

Global warming from burning oil and coal, causing freak weather around the world, playing havoc with food crops and killing off life forms.

Huge quantities of extremely toxic chemicals being put into our air and water every day, slowly murdering us and Earth's entire food chain.

Destruction of Earth's forests. Trees make oxygen, which we need to survive. This includes the Maine woods, too, not just the rain forests.

And lots more. How did we get to this point of threatened (the longer we wait, the more likely) extinction of our species and Earth's other creatures? You know as well as I: An economic system which puts profits over all of life on Earth.

Profits over life. How's that for an operating principle?

Are we stuck with this system? Are we doomed because industry and their paid-for minions in government won't respond to our begging and pleading?

If we wait for industry and government to rescue us and respond to common sense and logic, then yes, we are doomed.

Just a couple more facts so we're clear. In Chile, where seasonal holes in the ozone layer have shown up for some time, there are blind salmon in the ocean, rabbits so near-sighted hunters can pick them up, sheep blinded by cataracts, and large increases in human cancers.

We can talk about many other evils stemming from large corporations' hoarding and wasting of Earth's resources: poverty, hunger, disease, war, corruption, prostitution of human values for money, and so on. But none so dangerous as the impending threat of major environmental disasters.

Without a livable Earth, nothing else matters.

All right, enough Apocylapsing. What can we do to save what's left of Earth?

I believe only by getting true democracy back -- control in the hands of we, the people -- can we hope to stave off full-blown, worldwide environmental disaster. We still might not make it, but I for one am not going to give the poisoners a free ride while they're killing us.

Only by wresting power from the insatiable gluttons can we hope to save what's left of Earth. We should think in terms of what is needed, rather than measuring everything's worth by how much money can be made.

Then, you ask, what happens once we, the people, get control of our Earth? What do we do with true democracy, where we have full, open discussion and debate, where you and I vote for what goes into our air and water, which large projects get built, how we structure ourselves, how to allocate our resources?

The answer is, we have to come up with our own solutions. And, since we will have our self-interest in mind (as corporations definitely do not), we will arm ourselves with facts and debate strenuously knowing if we can convince people we're right, they'll support our ideas.

I don't have a blueprint, but I'm confident that with facts and full public debate, we certainly can do much better than the moneymen at managing Earth's resources. We can do anything we want; we're the people.

When coming up with solutions, we should keep in mind what is really necessary to survive. Money is not. Clean air and water, unpoisoned food, shelter, clothing, means to keep warm in winter are the basics. Then we need friends to work with and enjoy, productive work, practical and thinking education, and health care. Many of these can be provided locally or regionally.

Competition is not a dirty word. But competition for gathering the most material goods is silly and wasteful. We could compete for who comes up with the best ideas which benefit us all, who does the best work on projects we have all decided upon, who grows the best vegetables without pesticides.

Competition can be a moral competition, a setting of an example, instead of this inane hoarding of "things," and calling it "success."

Coming up with plans to reorganize ourselves will be the easy part. The hard part is going to be wresting control from the multi-national corporations, who don't care where they make their goods, so long as they can force somebody to buy them.

We need to change the way we look at things. Instead of saying we shouldn't buy Japanese cars, let's look at the whole idea of gasoline-driven individual cars: Why not mass produce solar cars, why not think about small-scale, cheap, local and regional public transportation: trains, buses, etc.?

Why are we here in Maine eating broccoli from California when we can grow the best broccoli right here? In Michigan, instead of trying to compete with Japanese cars, why don't they grow more strawberries, cherries, apples and other produce that does so well in their climate?

The point is, trying to compete by duplicating efforts already being done well is terribly wasteful. We need to start using Earth's resources for products that are needed, not because they'll make somebody some money.

We also need to start producing only those products that will not harm Earth or use up more resources than can be replaced. This "grow, grow, grow" mentality guarantees that we'll have used up Earth's minerals, forests, clean air and water, arable land, within the relatively near future. This is parasitic behavior which must stop.

Instead of trying to make and sell everything to everybody so we can make money to buy what we need, why don't we just make what we need right here? If we have any surplus food and other necessities after we fill our needs, only then should we ship them away.

Why, for example, are so many Maine potatoes and Maine wild blueberries shipped away that they're often hard to find in Maine stores? Why does Georgia-Pacific ship whole trees to Turkey, Jpaan, Korea, and Canada, so that the jobs leave Maine, too? Because they can make more profits that way. Our needs are not considered.

First take care of our local needs, then our regional needs, then national, then international. All this shipping of goods around the world is terribly wasteful of oil and labor.

We want the most logical, common sense, practical ideas anyone can come up with. The theme is survival of humans and other species on Earth.

I really do believe that we either get true democracy, where you and I make the decisions, or we lose it. We don't have much time.

Industry is turning our beautiful blue and green Earth into a huge, poison gas chamber. I'm not going quietly. How about you?



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