Sunday, October 24, 2004

Poem: World Stripped Away

Friday, October 22, 2004 - Associated Press: "Report warns of loss of Earth's resources"

"Humanity's reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of natural habitats for farmland and over-exploitation of the oceans are destroying Earth's ability to sustain life." So says a World Wildlife Fund report in an Associated Press article.

"Humans currently consume 20 percent more natural resources than the Earth can produce," adds the WWF report. "We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between consumption of natural resources and the Earth's ability to renew them."

According to the report, the United States is one of the five biggest consumers of nonrewable energy. This story struck a chord with me as it is a subject that I have been giving a great deal of thought to lately. Every time I see a new construction site or another strip mall or read about Orca dying in Puget Sound due to sonar interference caused by the government allowing larger ships into the area or I drive behind another SUV, I feel a pain from deep within. I worry about our future, or if we have one given the way we are wasting away this planet.

The environmental ruin we have wrought on this planet is staggering. And we have a mistaken belief that it won't matter. We can't seem to comprehend that everything is connected and the damage we do in one place effects some other in a harmful manner.

We clear cut forests and wonder why we have mudslides. Cases of cancer and lung disease increase year by year, yet we can't see the tie-in to poor air quality and polluted water supplies; not to mention processed food. The cloud thickens around our cities to the point that a breath of air becomes a strain, but does anyone question the poor automobile mileage and efficiency standards of SUVs?

We mismanage our National Parks by underfunding their upkeep and monitoring, turn a blind eye as large corporations make land spoilation part of their business model and ignore any possibility of developing alternative energy sources so that the same corporations can rake in the profits, made on the planet's limited supplies of oil.

We think that developing land for commercial and residential purposes will keep property taxes low, create jobs and meet growing consumer needs, but we fail to realize how short term these gains are when measured against the lost lands needed for wildlife of all kinds. Every lost field of grass or endangered species or contaminated fishing area or over-farmed land becomes one more break in the chain of life. Eventually, when enough chains have been broken off, our piece in the link will whither away, too. We are like the teenager too sure he will live forever to eat right, exercise, quit smoking or behave in a healthy manner. That teenager will pay at 40, and so, too, will humankind at some fast-approaching moment.

As we overpopulate the planet beyond sustainable levels, ignore mass transit opportunities until our roads become parking lots and pretend conservation should only be something hippies in Oregon do, we die a little bit more each day. This litany of environmental ruin I have laid forth in this entry might seem like Liberal ranting. But look closely at the world you live in. Notice the traffic, extra sun screen you apply now, the number of friends with cancer, the empty strip malls that stand next to a construction site for another strip mall, the gas mileage you get on your SUV, and the number of cigarette butts lying about the smoking area outside your office, and then tell me I am wrong.

World Stripped Away

Strip mall upon strip mall;
At landscapes they eat.
Strip mine affected
With ruinous feat.

Clearing a pathway;
Once was beauteous living.
Now all’s gone for sale,
Passed to builders we’re giving.

No room left for moving.
Traffic a curse.
Each new built construction;
Our world’s all the worse.

Short term the thinking,
Short-sighted gains;
Space since restricted
As clean living wanes.

Politicians so foolish
In the ratables chased.
Redundant; unneeded;
Our planet’s defaced.

More land since been spoiled
With each plow into dirt.
Every tree lost to clearing
Is our future we hurt.

Polluting the rivers
Equals life to extinction.
Smog fills the heavens.
Is this man’s lone distinction?

The world’s all connected;
As this sphere sees reduction;
Exploiting life’s circle
Is a slow self-destruction.

Copyright SGW 2004


Anonymous said...

This says a great deal in a clear way. It can be used in high schools as a prompt to discuss ecology. I hope science and/or English teachers are listening....

Unknown said...

Thank you. Feel free to tell those teachers to stop by and read.