September 14, 2006

Eco anxiety

Alaska glacier water

In retrospect, starting off a trip to the northern wilderness, with a viewing of a pointed expose on our declining earth, didn’t set a tone of ease and vacation. From the moment I walked out of that tiny theater in Homer and climbed back into my gas guzzling SUV rental until my pollution spewing plane touched down in the smog filled city I call home, I was assaulted with notification of impending doom.

When I visited the beautiful Exit Glacier, on a sun filled, and by local standards “hot” day, the on duty ranger, standing at the bottom of the glacier, watching the ice melt, lamented about how everyday she sees more destruction of the ice field. And we all know what that means. It means the end of fresh water and the start of a distopian water world.

On the boat trip to Halibut Cove, a pollution spewing boat at that, we detoured to a bird sanctuary island. As our boat circled the island, we were told of the hardships faced by these birds because of oil spills, pollution and the changing nature of their environment, as their food sources diminshed. And we all know what that means. All the beautiful creatures on our planet are facing extinction and it is all our fault.

I came home exhausted and depressed. I likened my trip to admiring a beautiful wildflower, while crushing the ten surrounding plants with my giant, killing boots. I was filled with fear and despair. On our weekly trip to Whole Foods, purveyors of falsly advertised feel good organicness, I spotted this Plenty Magazine cover story “Eco Anxiety – Can we worry too much?”.

It even had an illustration of a cute, dying polar bear. (I’ve been watching the polar bear, global warming is here, special on CNN, over and over, until I can’t stand it a second more.) The cover touched the heart of my plight. How will the development of my very own anxiety complex over our doomed planet help save us? I was glad to see that my feelings were not unique.

Was I a bad person before my Alaska nature enlightenment? Was I unaware? No, in fact I was doing very well in leading a low impact life prior to having all these new woes laid before me. It seems that those people who already have an awareness of the problems facing our planet are the same people who are bombarded with more and more doom. Those that are blissfully consuming and polluting are also happily not hearing the cries.

Like all unhappiness and violence in life, you must choose your battles and make peace with the rest. I will continue to create my own little environment of conscious living. I will continue to read about ways to improve my home, my lifestyle and I will seek to support others doing the same. That is grassroots activism at the core and that is where I do have some power.

1 Comment

  1. I had a similar experience Friday, seeing the rapidly disappearing glacier watched over by Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, for the first time. Hundreds of tourists (including us) drove their diesel cars spewing exhaust fumes up, up, up to the foot of the glacier. I felt that no one should be allowed up there anymore except for on buses using renewable energy sources. Yes, we must choose our own battles, but aren’t we getting to the point where it is no longer enough to set a quiet example ?Isn’t it crucial to start reaching out to others and informing them of what is at stake AND letting them know what power we possess to take action?

    Comment by Maureen — September 25, 2006 @ 6:36 am

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