Watching the Termites Destroy Our Space Ship

Think of Earth as a space ship, and think of its people as space travelers. Here we are, supplied by a merciful Creator with the basics we need for our trip. Now, ask yourself, “Who would destroy the ship we’re traveling in and contaminate the necessities of life on it?”

The answer? We would.

Especially now. Especially with the rise of a political movement that places short-term profit above long-term survival.

I imagine the movement gets its momentum from the notion that we can no longer afford to protect the environment – not now that the economy is in such sorry shape. What America needs is jobs, they preach. Not clean air and water. Not pristine parks and thriving wildlife. Such things are luxuries in these hard times.

Promoting this self-destructive view are billionaires who stand to gain from ravaging the earth, people like the Koch brothers who own a vast energy empire based on coal and oil. Such people are prepared to spend unlimited amounts to preserve their right to plunder the earth and pollute our air and water at will.

The cost is horrendous. You will remember the BP disaster – the explosion that destroyed a deep-water oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing several people and wreaking havoc with the area’s wildlife and economy. Despite those saccharine TV commercials proclaiming the Gulf is better than ever today, the damage from that catastrophe lingers on, and will continue to linger for generations.

You probably don’t remember the assault on West Virginia’s mountains. The photo above might refresh your memory. It shows how entire mountaintops are removed to extract coal. The impact on the scenery is devastating of course, but the gravest danger is to the people who live nearby.

It’s been going on forever, it seems. And no one has been able to stop it. On Memorial Day, a group of coalfield mothers, daughters and activists  are taking desperate measures to call attention to their plight.

Here’s an excerpt from a report by Jeff Biggers, published on AlterNet and distributed by Reader Service News today:

In a dramatic action to symbolize that “our mountains that have been stripped of everything living on them, and in solidarity with our people, who are sick and dying and dead because of this practice,”  a group of coalfield mothers, daughters and activists will shave their heads to call out the bald face complicity of Big Coal-bankrolled state politicians and the denial of the devastating health and human rights violations in coal mining communities.

Th report quotes former Army nurse Marilyn Mullens, who is leading the protest, as complaining:

We’ve gone through all the official channels of every level of our state government, we’ve been to DC, nothing is being done. Silence is louder than words. We’ve talked and talked and talked, but it hasn’t gotten us where we need to be with this issue. You have air pollution, water pollution, the destruction of so many living things – it’s a bigger deal than people think. I mean they are actually destroying a culture of people. It’s not what my grandparents would have wanted. And I know, the old coal miners, they don’t like it – they think it is horrible. We are the majority but our voices are drowned out by big coal money. It’s like they shove their money down our throats. The politicians completely ignore us.

Biggers notes that:

While state politicians, including Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, often cry that President Obama has carried out a war on coal in central Appalachian states, the truth is that coal mining jobs have actually increased to ranks not seen since 1993, and mountaintop removal operations have not slowed to a trickle, as Big Coal sycophants claim.

The real casualties in coal mining communities, as Mullens and other mothers point out, are children, women, the elderly, and other residents living on the toxic front lines of strip mining fallout.

This is just one battle in a wide-ranging war on the environment. And ironically, the war is being waged by people who call themselves conservatives. You might think that conservation would be among their priorities. Instead it is one of their targets.

They manufacture false science and conjure up threats of economic Armageddon in an unrelenting propaganda crusade to persuade human beings to sacrifice their survival to the promise of a weekly paycheck.

They invest vast sums in lies to refute the obvious reality of climate change – and to recruit unprincipled politicians who will do their bidding.

Perhaps we should all shave our heads in solidarity with the women of Appalachia on this Memorial Day. Or go on strike like the students in Quebec. Or occupy some government building…

But you and I won’t do anything so drastic. We’ll just shake our heads and mourn the sad state of affairs as we hurtle through space and watch helplessly as greedy termites destroy our space ship.

Click here to read the AlterNet article.