Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sustainable IE

When I finished Naturopathic School, I accepted a job with a "holistic psychologist" who wanted me to take over the nutritional aspect of her practice. After I planned to relocate to her Virginia office, she decided to move to Germany and asked me if I was still interested. As a graduate of German Lutheran middle and high school, my Deutsch was passable, but I was young and the prospect of living in Europe was too good to pass up. Long story short, I found out she and her network were part of the neo-faciest ilk, quite adept and articulate when it came to denying the Holocaust. Needless to say, after many arguments and much soul searching, I basically stole her car for an afternoon, moved my stuff to an international shipping company, returned the car and handed in my resignation. During one of our heated arguments, I told her, "It's not like I want the Holocaust to be true, it would be really great if it were a hoax, but I have friends with tattoos on their arms from their time at a concentration camp." She of course replied that God just told her I was not advanced enough in my spirituality to understand, and that she was not allowed to talk to me anymore. I now think she has a great future in conservative talk radio.

As I have gotten older, I have learned much from that experience, which is giving me a context as to how to understand some trends we are witnessing now. What I learned is the main reason for a push to deny the Holocaust  by certain political groups is marketing. How can you sell Fascism and right wing oppression when it's greatest accomplishment was the slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other social undesirables and opponents of the regime? You have to deny it so you can push your political agenda, because well, concentration camps are such a downer, few wish to plug into a movement that promotes them.

A great way to keep up with  trends these days is to read the back pages of the newspaper. Some seemingly un-related events that have been cropping up after page 9: Kimchi Crisis in South Korea, Aftermath of the Floods in Pakistan, Bigger River Flows. How does Kimchi in Korea relate to Floods in Pakistan and larger amounts of fresh water flowing into the oceans? Unusual weather patterns that the White House now wants to call "Global Climate Disruption." For the rest of us, we call this Global Warming. Apparently, there has been an unusual amount of rain fall in Korea spoiling the cabbage crop,  causing hoarding of the beloved Kimchi.  Scientists from UCI state that all of this is  an indication of acceleration of the global water cycle of evaporation and rainfall. This accelleration  influences the intensity of storms, floods and droughts which is straining  global food systems. We can see and feel it here in the Inland Empire. Our Forests in our local mountains are suffering terribly, and it is anyone's guess as to what the current year will bring in terms of rainfall. Some scientists say El Nino, others La Nina, I say, who-knows-nada.

And yet there are many who say that such changes in a relatively short amount of time are not really happening. In fact, they get millions of dollars each year to spew their doubt through think tanks, conservative media outlets and political action committees. There is even a California ballot initiative to halt the excellent legislation pushed by our current Govenor to curb the many chemicals that have contributed to this global drama unfolding before us, all in the name of "jobs." The mantra of the pundits and certain political camps is that all we have to do is stop regulations, then rich people will create more jobs and we can all go shopping again.

Well, the so called America that so many fervent political activists want "back" can not be sustained, it only existed at great cost to our future. The entire American economy since colonial times was built on boom and bust, and with out resources, there is no economy, no rich, no nothing really. Which brings me back to my German experience. I understand why so many want to deny Global Warming, they are like my former employer and her network. The oil based economy created a lot of power and prosperity for many, but at a great cost to human health and economic disparity for a large portion of our local and global population. When we see the devistation that comes with an oil based economy, the death of an entire ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, the wars that are being fought to secure access, the collateral damage and our maimed veterans, the instability of our economic system, the destruction of our air and land, the change in the global climate, and even the shortage of Kimchi in Korea, well the old ways of an oil based economy are a hard sell. An Oil based food system is also very unstable, when we have to truck in food from thousands of miles away, we are at the mercy of the oil companies and all that comes along with that. Better to deny the problem, blame environmentalists for killing the economy, legislate away solutions that in the end would actually create long term stability and sustained economic prosperity for all. (These solutions that certain political parties want to legislate away can actually make some people rich in the process, but you know those pesky facts, some people just want the old ways to stay regardless the cost.)

We are living in a time of great upheaval, but the prospects for the future can be quite bright,  the solutions are actually delicious and fun. It all starts with what you put into your mouth for nourishment. Local foods save energy, reduce the amount of petroleum needed, taste better and have more nutrition. When they are organically produced, the effect is even greater. Nearly 60 percent of green house emmissions are from an industrial agricultural system. The simple act of growing a garden, container, table top or otherwise can profoundly effect your own health and the health of your community as well as the globe. Shop Farmers Markets, get to know your food producers, dine at Restaurants who feature local and seasonal menu's, grow something.

Where to start? More is coming in terms of my website, but a great way to start is with the Growcology Learning Center in Riverside. Riverside is part of the Emerald City Project, encouraging cities to be the models of sustainability. Check out and for community, classes and tips on how to re-create our beautiful verdant green San Bernardino Valley for our future generations. The America I want, is an America where every person gets a chance to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat healthy food, and have jobs that contribute to the betterment of our great nation as a whole. This is the California I want, as well as the Inland Empire I want. I do not want "back" an economy that is only good for a couple of years, that is dependent on hurting the land and people in order to grow. I do not want more smog, more boom and bust, more uncertainty.

It is time to stop denying the problem, and wake up to a delicious, clean healthy future.

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