When the first extra-planetary astronauts shared a picture of the Earth rising over the moon’s horizon it gave all of humanity an opportunity to visually behold this beautiful blue planet we inhabit. It was both humbling and awe inspiring, and it was believed by those who behold beauty that being able to gaze upon the planet’s entirety would encourage us to be more loving and gentle to our “Blue Marble” home.
And indeed this image was used as a banner toward crafting and passing many national and international environmental laws at the time. But there were also those who behold power, and the image encouraged them to think that the entire planet was within their grasp. So while the early 1970’s heralded in an era of global environmentalism, it also presaged an expansion of global markets, the development of massive international trade, and a rapacious exploitation of the planet’s bounty – re-termed “resources.”
It has been the constant effort of those of us who behold beauty to stem the grasp of those who behold power. In this struggle ‘Arch Druid’ David Brower stated that “All victories are temporary, all losses are permanent.”
In the last 45 years we have won some ground, but we have also lost much. Last night we lost much. We will now have a President who has vowed to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, to discard the Endangered Species Act, to throttle back on sustainable and renewable energy development, and to expand fossil fuel exploitation. We will now have a President who believes that Anthropogenic Climate Disruption is a “hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.”
We also have a Congress and a Senate who concur.
I have no ready-made answers to this state of affairs. It will be hard to gauge where our efforts will be best directed. But I do know that this is not a time to surrender. Rather it is a time for increased vigilance. Friend and prominent environmental activist Randall Hayes advised me to “increase our international collaborations to put yet more pressure on the US government to be a responsible planetary citizen.”
But I also believe we need to gather together; to act locally and breath common air. While OCR has recast our strategy to reach out to a larger audience by way of Social Media and the public press, I also believe we need to pull our gaze away from the screen and come together in person. It is time to get out into the light of day; to visit the forests and the ocean. Now more than any other time we need to deeply behold beauty.