Wednesday, September 03, 2003

"I'm not sure my optimism is justified."

As many of you know, I consider environmental issues as top priority. You've probably seen me try to cram that down your throat a bit in the past.

Well... open wide.

Bill Moyers was interviewed recently regarding the Shrub anti-environmental policy and had quite a few intelligent things to say. (Don't let it frighten you.)

Here's an excerpt:

Doesn't it seem inevitable that this tremendous discrepancy between the Bush administration's actions and words will be exposed?

Moyers: There is always a backlash when any administration, liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, goes too far. In this case, all the scientists that I respect and all the environmentalists that I listen to say to me, "What's different this time, Moyers, is that it could happen too late." Let's say by 2008 the consequences of all these policies become clear and the public rises up in protest. We don't have between now and 2008 to reverse the trends; it will be too late then.

What do you mean by "too late"?

Moyers: Every policy of government that is bad or goes wrong can ultimately be reversed. The environment is the one exception to the rule of politics, which is that to every action there is a reaction. By the time we all wake up, by the time the media starts doing their job and by the time the public sees what is happening, it may be too late to reverse it. That's what science is telling us. That's what the Earth is telling us. That's what burns in my consciousness.

Consider the example of Iraq. Once upon a time it was such a lush, fertile, and verdant land that the authors of Genesis located the Garden of Eden there. Now look at it: stretches upon stretches of desert, of arid lands inhospitable to human beings, empty of trees and clean water and rolling green grasses. That's a message from the Earth about what happens when people don't take care of it. No matter what we do to Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains a wasteland compared to what it was. American policy makers see only the black oil in the ground and not the message that all the years of despoliation have left.

The irony is that despoliation doesn't just wipe out the verdant land, it makes it impossible to have a healthy, diverse economy.

Moyers: It stuns me that the people in power can't see that the source of our wealth is the Earth. I'm an entrepreneur, I'm a capitalist. I don't want to destroy the system on which my livelihood and my journalism rest. I am strongly on behalf of saving the environment [in no small part] because it is the source of our wealth. Destroy it and the pooh-bahs of Wall Street will have to book an expedition to Mars to enjoy their riches. I don't understand why they don't see it. I honestly don't. This absence of vision as to what happens when you foul your nest puzzles me.

Do you consider yourself a pessimist?

Moyers: I once asked a friend on Wall Street about the market. "I'm optimistic," he said. "Then why do you look so worried?" I asked. And he answered: "Because I'm not sure my optimism is justified." I feel that way. But I don't know how to be in the world except to expect a confident future and then get up every morning and try in some way to bring it about.

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