I believe that somehow we are inter-connected to the world around us, an entity sometimes called Gaia. It is said to have a self-correcting mechanism, as any viable organism must have. If so, the event of the last few years have been profoundly upsetting.
I like polar bears. I don’t like videos of polar bears swimming to their death a hundred miles out in open sea, because the ice flows have melted.
I like all the good things honey bees engender: honey, of course, but also the berries and fruit crops that depend on their industry. So to hear of the ‘hive collapse’ is disturbing to say the least.
Not to mention the bark beetle destroying more acres of pine trees than forest fires combined. Or a blight that has the potential to kill off 70% of the orange crop in Florida. Or the bat colonies that are mysteriously dying off, starving to death as they awake prematurely from winter hibernation.
Small things have a way of multiplying under the rader, until the tipping point has been reached and there is no longer a possibility of recovery.
Therefore, I was encouraged when I read the most recent issue of Newsweek (9/29/08). Under the somewhat misleading title of “How not to save the world” they actually give five potent ways that we can, for a change, make things better:
1. Instead of fighting for democracy for beleagered third world nations, they suggest instead that we concentrate on redistribution of land, that haven for food production. With land comes true power, rather than relying on people unfamiliar with democratic voting procedues to pick the ‘right’ candidate.
2. Prevent smoking. I know it comes as a harsh blow to tobacco companies, but smoking really isn’t good for your health. We’ve done some good things in this country such as warnings on packaging, barring smoking venues to prevent second hand smoke, using taxes to educate those most vulnerable to starting to smoke.
The suggestion is to branch out and help other countries do likewise. Projected tobacco deaths in developing countries are expected to reach 7MM annually by 2030.
3. Get girls into school. They have found that girls represent the 60% of kids out of school in third world countries. No surprise there. “When girls go to school, they marry later, have fewer, healthier children. If an African mother has five years of education, her child has a 40% better chance of living to age 5!”
4. More cheap micro-loans. I, too, have been bothered by charging poor folks for their small loans to start up businesses. Then I found out that the loans have a 98% payback rate (US Mortgage companies: are you listening?) Yes, interest rates for these microloans can range from 25-30%, but local loan sharks are charging 200-300%. Enough said.
5. Supply micronutrients to poor children. According to the article, “900 million people, including 178 million children under 5 are suffering from malnutrition. Every day 50M starve to death.” Genetically engineered crops are patented, expensive, and hybrid–meaning each year seed has to be purchased.
In contrast, providing Vitamin A and zinc supplements to infants and toddlers under 2 in developing nations would cost $60M annually, but SAVE $1Billion in lives saved, diseases averted and cognitive benefits gained, according to the Copenhagen Consus Group.
A counselor friend of mine describes what he calls a ‘soul shift’ that he can sense when a family collectively moves away from destructive behavior to health. Perhaps that is what we, as a people need to do as well.
If we can afford $700 billion (conservatively) to bail out the finance district, perhaps a few cents on the dollar might also help create a better planet for us ALL to live on!