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Monday, April 21, 2008


Earth Day comes once a year, but preserving our big blue marble ought to be a daily practice, year ‘round. In order to bring the environment back from the brink of disaster and ensure a planet for our grandchildren fit to live on, we must have a paradigm shift in how we live. As the world’s largest consumer of resources and goods, the United States must lead the way in creating new communities based on sustainability and livability that in turn will benefit not only their citizens, but the entire world.

There is no one panacea that will fix the environment and end hunger. The solution will require the thought of our best scientists, civil engineers, and sociologists and the cooperation of individual citizens engaging in less selfishness, if not outright selflessness. We all need to view our existence on this planet in a new way. While we may have a legal right to continue business as usual—and to save ourselves we may need to change that—we have a moral obligation to be able to look back and say we have done all we can to create a livable environment for our offspring and theirs. We must wean ourselves from oil.

Use of a variety of alternative energy forms is our best weapon against global warming and terrorism. Reduction of use of oil will improve the environment and take away the main weapon from those who seek to destroy us. Our use of alternative energy must be balanced. The current effort to create more ethanol is bringing about hunger. We cannot simply grow our way out of our current energy crisis, importing corn from the bellies of third world peoples. Not only do we need to burn alternative fuels in our vehicles, we need to change our driving habits and our means of transportation. We need to if not divorce ourselves from our automobiles, at least try a separation.

Many Americans consider it their God-given right to drive wherever they want with no thought to the cost not only to their individual pocketbook, but to the environment in which we all must live. As gas prices inch toward $4 some people are beginning to plan their trips in their automobiles, making each trip count. Perhaps the government should have instituted gasoline rationing following 9/11, thus forcing Americans to be frugal with the commodity that is a component of the conflict in the Middle East. Americans managed to ration all manner of things during WWII, but the current administration would like us to believe that we may continue our oil-gluttonous lives with no inconvenience. Now Americans need to climb out of their cars and into buses.

Besides finding alternative energy sources, Americans must shift their view of community. City planners and civil engineers need to create communities within cities whereby citizens can live, work, and shop within a smaller radius than that which came into vogue following WWII. Affordable housing must be within a reasonable distance of peoples’ employment coupled with mass transportation. Where in the past realtors have told potential buyers to drive until they found a home they could afford, Americans need to shift their mindset from the suburbs to urban areas and be willing to possibly live with less square footage in order to avail themselves of public transportation and being within walking distance of shops and services. Americans must demand to live closer to work and services.

While changing their notions about transportation and living arrangements, Americans need to shift their thinking about food. People should be encouraged to support small local farmers and eat in season. While it is impractical today to believe that anyone can totally live within a hundred mile radius of their home, attempting to eat in season and support local sustainable farming will go a long way to improving the environment and community. Americans must make more conscious choices at the grocery store and let their money be their vote for better food.

In the process of becoming more selfless, the need to purchase “things” that ultimately winds up in the landfill declines. Through thoughtful purchases and recycling we can minimize our carbon imprint on the earth. Washington is one of the greenest states when it comes to recycling, a fact Washingtonians can be proud of.

If we want to maintain “the American way of life” we need to change what it is. As five percent of the world’s population, we do not possess a God-given or constitutional right to thirty percent of the world’s resources. The daily behaviors of each of us can make a difference to the environment and the earth.


VW said...

For the last ten years, the actual global temperature has gone down. That is hardly consistent with some of the doom and gloom scenarios often talked about. Our whole world is the result of warming and cooling periods over the ages. The very area we call home is the product of glaciers forming and coming down from the north and their subsequent recession.

Blaming this administration for not doing some things is kind of one sided it seems to me. 9/11 was not the wake up call, it was long before that. The towers were a target back in 1993. Why didn't Mr. Clinton start rationing everything back then?

There has been no need to ration anything and there isn't a need to really do that now. Unnecessary rationing will lead to even more hording and shortages. Controlling prices have never, ever worked - anywhere. Black markets will be the norm. And yes, there were such things in WWII.

I see a lot of people telling me I gotta move into some little hole in a city someplace. The problem is I don't see people with for sale signs up in front of their nice vacation type homes with views of the waterfront willing to give up their own little piece of heaven and move back to the city and live in a 400 square foot closet. Al Gore comes to mind with his mansions, his SUVs and his private jets.

What you are proposing would devastate our economy and probably cause more harm, poverty and hunger then we would ever have otherwise.

I value my freedom. I'm not about to let some government bureaucrat tell me where I can live, what I food I can buy and where I can work - providing there is even a job to go to our freedoms are usurped.

You might call it selfish. Fine. I call it freedom and I don't want to live in an America where my Constitutional right of movement, privacy and association are taken away.

Without a strong and free America, this world will be a very scary place.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Regardless of whether or not you believe that the glaciers are melting as the earth warms, you will allow that our dependence on oil does not ensure our freedom. You may feel that you have an inalienable right to pollute and consume, but you do not have the moral authority. Leading by example in reducing, reusing, and finding alternatives to oil will do more to keep America free than all the oil wells in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Everything we do to help the environment, from using a cloth shopping bag to being frugal with gasoline, strikes a blow for freedom and makes the world a better place to live.

JosephMcG said...

Thank you, Stephanie, I realize that I have not yet begun to walk my talk for our children. I am taking what you have to say to heart and shall do what I can to act now for the good of the human race.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Joseph, your tireless work to nourish the spirit of those you minister is ample evidence of your committment to heaven and earth.

VW said...

Who says I don't have any moral authority? You? I have as much as you do. Who made you arbiter of who has moral authority?

I see all these people telling me I have to change my entire life and they aren't exactly the first in line.

How about you? Are you moving to the city to a closet?

Al Gore, the high priest of Global Warming burns more energy in a day than I do in years with his mansions, SUVS and private jets. There's moral authority for ya!


VW said...

Let me make something clear. I'm not in favor of waste. I do live in the city in a small home. It's an older home and I've spent a pile of money making it more energy efficient.

I commute about 10 miles to work. I do so in a small, fuel efficient vehicle. I also have a chevy mini-van, but that is a trade off. I prefer it to some little tin can when I'm transporting grandchildren. It's a lot safer.

I recycle. I have m0ore than one city issued recycle bins, larger than most people's trash cans.

I believe people should be mindful of what they use and consume.

No one wants polluted air and water.

What I am against is someone telling me that I must give up my freedoms. I'm sorry, but living in a closet and standing in a line to buy rationed food is not something I associate with freedom. That is the old Soviet style of living. That is a system I've spent my entire life combating.

Yes, we need to explore energy alternatives. We need to drill for the oil in ANWR and of the CA cost. Int can be done with today's technology with very little environmental impact.

I'm not ready to drink the doom and gloom kool-aid just yet. The earth has been cooling the last 10 years. Carbon has increased. Go figure.

Not one Senator in either party wanted to touch that disaster called Kyoto. Bill Clinton never signed it. (Al Gore did, but as Veep, that has as much weight as me signing it). Why? Because they all knew it spelled economic disaster for this country.


Stephanie Frieze said...

I am glad to hear that you do care about the environment regardless of your belief or lack there of regarding the effect of polluting. If you can site the spiritual text that says it is acceptable to pollute you show me a false religion for we were not put here to use the resources of the earth thoughtlessly, but rather to be stewards of the earth and its resources. In no concept of the universe can it be considered moral to live thoughtlessly. I cannot imagine how thoughtless consumptiopn of any resource is either spiritual or patriotic. It is the same mind set as yours that has to be changed in order to improve the environment.

No, we have no plans to move to the city, although were we younger with the intent to stay in the area we would and in hindsight it would have been better had we moved to George Town instead of Gig Harbor when we married. We ARE planning to move to a home (where we have already planted fruit trees)in a small rural town where we can walk to most all services including a farmer's market and where there actually is transit service far above that which Pierce County Transit provides to residents in unincorportated Pierce County. Citizens must demand viable alternatives to getting into their cars as well as demand affordable housing near their place of work.

Yes, we are guilty of past actions that were not aligned with that which truly speaks to our hearts. People are capable of change and change we must. Slavery was considered customary, but that did not make it right.

VW said...

Well, I guess I'll move to that closet in the city when you do.

As an American, you have the right to live in a small town and do what makes you happy.

Again, who makes you the arbiter of what is spiritual and what isn't. I don't believe in excessive waste either, but my spiritual teachings says that man has freedom.

Taking away freedom is not freedom.

I will not sit idly by while our Constitution is destroyed and rights taken away by people who do not believe in freedom.

I will do what is necessary and use whatever means I have at my disposal to keep from becoming a slave to the state.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Well, VW we live in a multi-generational home where six adults and one child still manage to only put out one can of garbage per week while families of half our household living on the same street put out two and three times as much. Are we living totally off the grid? No, but we'd like to. Do we make conscious choices each day with each action as to how we effect the environment and strive to improve? Absolutely.

Perhaps you are already doing all that you can, VW. If that is so you needn't feel that our Constitution is threatened by environmentalists. It is already under seige from other quarters. I am sure that when cities and communities make committments to providing alternatives as to living and transportation situations that more and more people will make choices that improve everyone's lives, not just in this country, but around the world.

VW said...

We have three adults, one teenager and a three-year-old. We put out one trash can and usually one large recycle can, sometimes two. There are three generations under our roof.

I never said I advocated being wasteful.

Our freedoms are indeed under attack by various groups that would like to supplant our Constitution.

Forcing people to live in a certain place or restricting movement is not freedom. These are the beginnings of totalitarianism.

But like I said, When Al Gore moves into that 400 Square feet apartment and drives a moped, I might listen to him, but right now, he is nothing more than the Elmer Gantry of climate change. Guess I'm just really suspicious of the motives of people like that.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Is it not acceptable to encourage people to be more conscious of what they do and the fact that our actions impact everyone ultimately? We are all linked together by like sailors on a ship. Surely it cannot be unAmerican to strive to make the nation and earth the very best possible place since it's the only ship we've got. Waiting for another person, whether it is Al Gore, me or your neighbor, to attempt to make a difference is puzzling to me. Doing even some small things make a big difference for does not life consist of small things?

VW, you seem to take the idea of change personally and it was not intended so. It sounds as though you do much toward living softly on the earth and if you are content with what you do I am happy for you.

VW said...


I'm all for encouraging people to live sensibly. I think people should try and live responsibly and make decisions that best suit their circumstances.

I don't usually mind change although no one likes to deal with major changes or leave our comfort zones. What I don't like is being compelled to do something that goes against the very foundation and freedoms that this country was built upon.

The enemy is not capitalism. The enemy is not freedom. The cleanest places on earth are countries that have a long history of free markets and personal freedom. The dirtiest places on earth are those places where there is little individual freedom and the state controls the commerce with a heavy hand.


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JosephMcG said...

HAPPY EARTH DAY, EVERYONE... (thanks for doing what you are doing for our children, grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren)
Thanks Stephanie for giving us a chance to reflect on the importance of how we live our lives today...
Thanks VW for challenging us to make decisions based on our experience and understanding of today's world...
Joseph McG

Stephanie Frieze said...

Thank you, Joseph, for your kind words. I am always happy for your in-put.

Thank you for the information about products we can use safely, EP. Our family attempts to use products that are not harmful to the environment. More and more earth friendly are becoming available although many are not that difficult to make. We make our own shower cleaner and fabric softener.

Well, VW, I'm not Queen of the Land and have no power to compell you to change your life. You are right about change being uncomfortable and change that does not come from the heart is likely to fail anyway. It does not follow that being uncomfortable is a bad thing. All I suggest is that we all examine the alternatives we have and make wise choices whether it's in an automobile or a shopping bag. Even baby-steps make a difference, promote more and creative steps, and have the potential of rippling out to join all those other baby-steps until we're on the road to environmental health as we problem solve together.

VW said...


Sometimes I think we all want to be king or queen because of our convictions and deeply held beliefs and our desire that everyone see our way. It's a human thing. :)

This has been a good discussion.

I'll be home next week and have more time to contribute. It's been a long two months even though it's a really nice place and all.

Hope all of you are have a great week!


Stephanie Frieze said...

Yes, VW, it has been a good discussion. Last night I smelled Spring finally in the air so you should be returning to the real Spring and not the snowy one we've been having since March 21st. The ground hog must have seen his shadow because we've certainly had an extra four weeks of winter! Safe journey home.