The War on Terra



This we know:
The earth does not belong to man
Man belongs to the earth.
This we know:
All things are connected like
The blood which unites one family.
All things are connected.
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life;
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.
(Chief Seattle)

It’s Earth Day, so be nice to Big Mama. She sustains us all, so let’s give back a little respect. Never has she needed your attention and care as much as now. Do some triage on your daily routine and see how you can reduce the toxicity that’s killing her. Applying a little imagination and diligence can makes a big difference; give what you can, however you can. Some suggestions:

Do your bit to get rid of that toxic Shit Midas befouling the Oval Office with his careening War on Terra. Everything he touches turns to crap. Not only has he gutted hard-won progressive measures for a cleaner, saner planet, he’s been the single most influential lobbyist for pestilence, war, famine, and death — the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. For someone who talks like the messianic head of a dead-enders’ cult, he’s awfully concerned with making money for his cronies at the expense of ecology and human rights. I DON’T THINK HE INTENDS TO LEAVE. Let’s make him. Send some time, skills or money the way of candidates or groups that will throw the bum out. Not a joiner? Low on green? At the very minimum, register to vote and exercise your franchise at election time. Encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. He thinks he’s otherworldly and so do I: from Mars. Let’s send him.

If you’re not a Lean, Green Recycling Machine that carries canvas and net shopping bags as a rule, at least figure out ways to reduce your usage of paper and plastic. Buy your fruits and veggies loose and either put them in reusable net bags or reuse the plastic ones a few times (turn them inside out). If you’re only buying a few of an item, don’t bother with a bag at all. (What, that cantaloupe needs to be in a bag for a car ride?) Buy a couple of zip-foldable carryalls and put one in your car, briefcase, backpack, bike bag etc. so you always have one handy. Or buy reusable grocery bins for your trunk. (I’ve seen a lot more in use in Europe and South America.)

Get a healthier cultural diet.. Are you a voracious reader? See if you can do it paperlessly. Find out which of your favorite publications offer an electronic alternative for your handheld or desktop. Most new books are available in downloadable format for a variety of electronic readers, or in audio format. It’s hard to avoid being a consumer of contemporary culture. You don’t have to be a cultural hermit, but a little moderation’s good for the soul. Just do your bit to resist the massive production of plastic crapola that seems to accompany every new movie, concert series or TV show. It uses up earthly resources and pollutes every spare pore of space with advertising. You don’t need that plastic The Whole Ten Yards keychain. Don’t accept it just cause it’s free, cause it’s not. It costs a little chunk of your own uniqueness and independence, which is far more important to the health of the planet than promoting some transitory cultural non-event. And for Gaia’s sake, don’t buy the junk.

Want to use a non-polluting, cheap, abundant fuel in your life? Get off your duff and take a walk. Prolong your life by taking an after dinner constitutional with your sweetie, your kids, your pet or all of the above. If you live in a neighborhood that’s unsafe due to bad air quality or bad neighbor quality, devolve some of your chores to manual at least part of the time and translate some of your body’s vast oil reserves into elbow grease. Don’t run the dishwasher as often or wash small quantities by hand. Maybe do it in concert (literally) with a cultural option from the previous paragraph. Or, untether yourself entirely from the opiate teat and just let your mind wander. You won’t lose it, trust me, and it gives the hamster in the wheel a little break.

Exercise patience. We’ve become so accustomed to instant availability of anything we want, when we want it that momentary deprivation now represents a personal or societal catastrophy. Most of us now have more flexibility in how we run our lives but it’s also alarming to see excessive control of one’s immediate environment becoming a particularly toxic status symbol. Why do people drive around in mobile multiplex theaters? If you air-condition your home to meat-locker temperatures in the summer and blast furnace temps in the winter cause control gives you comfort, dial back to simple liveability and learn to adjust. Better yet, unless a physical ailment mandates it, recalibrate your comfort level to be more in tune with the real seasons. Go low tech unless you’re actually uncomfortable. Slightly chilly? Wear a sweater or amp up your physical activity. Hot? Have a cold beverage, slow down and use a hand fan.

Support your local small businesses, farmers, experts and services whenever possible. Don’t always make convenience or saving a few pennies the default. Most areas have some kind of growers’ co-op or local farmers’ market offering stuff that really tastes better than produce picked raw on another continent and ripened in a corrugated container. If you’re dining out, ask if any of the specials come from your immediate area. Buying locally implicitly cuts down resources used for transportation, and you’re contributing to the economic health and character of your village, town or neighborhood. And stay the hell out of WalMart. They treat their employees like dirt because customer attraction to saving what amounts to NOT VERY MUCH gives them carte blanche to treat people like indentured servants. Who wants to live like ants surrounding a concrete colossus?

For your own health and sanity, learn to cook at least rudimentary stuff that doesn’t involve a box, a powder flavor packet or a microwave. The more participation you have in creating what’s sustaining you, the healthier it is for body and soul. Boil an egg. Squeeze some juice. Steam some veggies. The more processed a meal is, the more resource-redundant its production and the more likely it contains a bunch of crap more relevant to its shelf life than yours. Eat something you’ve grown yourself, even if it’s some fresh herbs from a window box or veggies grown on your deck or yard, and teach your kids to to foster a plant or two. It plants within us a deep reminder to stay engaged with the rhythms of the planet. The enlivening power of connection has yet to be fully measured by science, but the effect that it can have on our well being is profound. Plus, we can all use the extra oxygen.

The Bush years got you stressed, depressed and freaking out? Positive engagement helps you, your community and the world at large. Disengagement empowers him, so start taking your country back by keeping alive your sense of what democracy really means. He’s not the boss. He’s supposed to be working for and representing us. Do what you can to restore the immune system of our democracy. Demand a free press and transparency and accountability from your representatives. We keep hearing that the Chimperor is the only thing protecting democracy and freedom, but his actions promote the idiotic mentality is that there’s only so much democracy to go around and therefore he must dispense it like a corrupt duke handing out fiefdoms. Don’t buy the lie that equality and dignity for a fellow human means that you lose out in some way. Keeping us scared and stupid means we all lose. It makes life easier for people who prefer to rule when their duty is to serve.

Make the extra effort to be kind to yourself, your loved ones, your space, your community. By this I don’t mean indulgence, but an act that in some way sustains the health and dignity of all of the above. If you believe, as I do, that fanaticism is killing this planet, fight it with small acts of sanity and kindness in your daily choices. We share more than a planet, we’re part of a greater whole we only understand in fragments. Let’s not destroy the earth under our feet stampeding into an idea of Heaven that increasingly resembles an exclusive nightclub.

Check out any Earth Day events in your region and participate. Got any tips to share? Please do — symbiosis is the essence of planetary health.

Update: Just wanted to add that your tips don’t have to be material in nature. Posting about any activities that enjoyably connect you to Terra are just as ecological.

Update: One of Earth’s natural wonders speaks out.


Comments: 15


Beautiful. Happy Earth Day.


Ummm, you can save energy and reduce pollution by using a microwave for certain operations, especially things that require hot water.

They do, however, screw up the texture of what you cook, making a lot of foods “rubbery” and no one should consider using them for popcorn.

On the Gulf Coast it never ceases to amaze the people who rake leaves and put them out for disposal and then go to a garden store to buy “soil enhancement” products when they could easily create their own with a compost pile.


Earth Day

Sadly, No! has a fine Earth Day post up. It includes a number of good suggestions…even one about oval office cleaning….


I’ll just smoke some extra today.


I always wanted to get some sort of hand-cranked or bicycle-run chipper so that when the occasional limb comes off the mullberry, it can be put to good use in my little ‘byte’ of land.

Bryan, I’ve lived on the Gulf Coast, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that these are nouveau riche folks, and it doesn’t surprise me. Conspicuous consumption and all that Veblen stuff.


Around the OSP Blogs

I am running out of good opening lines… does anybody have any good ideas for opening lines for this column? The Mahablog,“>Suburban Guerrilla, and …


Around the OSP Blogs

I am running out of good opening lines… does anybody have any good ideas for opening lines for this column? The Mahablog,“>Suburban Guerrilla, and …

Hamilton Lovecraft

Much as I hate to snark at anyone who cares about the environment, every time I see that Chief Seattle speech quoted, I twitch. Chief Seattle never spoke any such words; they were written for a film in 1971.


No snark taken. I lounge corrected.


Not my books, Peanut, please don’t make me feel guilty about those. It’s just not the same reading a book online. Newspapers and magazines, fine. I do keep my books forever; my more aged paperbacks are a smudgy yellow, and quite disgusting, but still I do not replace them, even if i have to wear surgical gloves to read them.

Re Chief Seattle, though it is quite true that the speech in question was hatched and put into the Chief’s mouth in the seventies, Chief Seattle was one in a long line of great Native American orators, like the great Chief Joseph of “I will fight no more forever” fame. And Chief Seattle did make a public address with an ecological theme; it is preserved only in the notes of a contemporary reporter, and it was that report that gave rise to the manufactured speech. However, Chief Seattle’s own speech as jotted down at the time strikes the same notes as the invented one, and is deeply moving.

Wonderful post, peanut. I didn’t realize you were blogging here…great work, George Clinton for VP, that’s sending me to bed with a huge smile on my face.


Around the OSP Blogs

I am running out of good opening lines… does anybody have any good ideas for opening lines for this column? The Mahablog, Suburban Guerrilla, and The Right Christians respond to an Atrios post regarding the Religious Right. Guy Andrew Hall…


“War on Terra” indeed. That always did strike me as a Freudian slip.


“War on Terra” indeed. That always did strike me as a Freudian slip.


Sheesh. Sorry about the double post.


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