Thursday, September 20, 2007

What does it mean to be an environmentalist?

It's taken me this long to recover from Wednesday... The day left me reeling, in sadness, in pain, in simmering anger... at the rudeness, the intransigence, the impolite, almost cult-like demeanor the nuclear club Entergy and the NRC have suddenly brought to these public proceedings, as if it wouldn't be Christian or religious to oppose a pristine nuclear industry with nothing to reproach itself, above scrutiny.
For decades we've experienced the corporate culture surrounding the peaceful atom, seeping into our lives as a veiled pretext for uranium enrichment and weapons development, with complete abject disregard for the earth, the environment... fueled by a cold war race that didn't seem like it would ever end... but it did, miraculously perhaps, maybe because a younger generation of Russian kids just wanted to listen to heavy metal albums, and the only way they knew where to get them was over the wall in West Berlin.
Yet, this Russian rebellion didn't really stop there... the orchestrator of Glasnost, Gorbachev, is now the chairman of an environmental organization in America which is greatly influencing Hollywood... GlobalGreenUSA... which set the stage for the Green Car Red Carpet events at film premieres and award shows... promoting the use of electric vehicles in an industry which revels in technological innovation and liberal idealism.
This doesn't sit well with a lot of people, who fear environmentalism is like a watermelon, green on the outside, red on the inside. The poor and less fortunate often latch on to a dream of luxury and wealth, living vicariously through television and tabloid personalities like Paris Hilton... the sweet notion that suddenly sharing common goods might be possible, communal living in international communities, strikes them as a threat to the American dream... even if that dream is unattainable... lets a miracle like winning the lottery or inheriting great wealth from a forgotten distant relative.
This is why Leo DiCaprio's film 11th Hour is failing at the box office... not that it's not a great testament to our wrecking the planet with wild abandon, but it's not a populist statement... perhaps had Leo allowed his then girlfriend Gisele the narration alongside him... more people would have bought a ticket... It's never been about the message... it's always been about the messenger... While one person may relate to us the truth... if their appearance, their aura, their persona falls short of what an audience expects in a leader... it will fall on deaf ears... or worse antagonize.
It's interesting that the public accepts Leo DiCaprio as an actor, yet has difficulty taking him seriously as an environmentalist... despite his best intentions, there's a dimension missing in his rhetoric and his speech that erects a wall between himself and the audience... for you see... to care and feel for the earth, you must be of the earth... you must be at one with it... and the audience subconsciously feels it... it rings like a bell in every fiber of your body... it shows in your approach to all things... this is the connection both Gaia and the Green Man demand of us to restore ecological balance in our environment.
Corporate cultures, religions or cults based on anything other than harmony with the elements... instead aspiring to an entity or an idol, fails in that respect... there's a disconnect... and it is felt... by an audience which seeks solace in the comfort that man can be of nature, from nature... and aspire to a higher order, not a new world nuclear order, but a higher spiritual order... greater awareness, sharper senses.
But such feelings are not common... man strives for worldly power, riches, stature, standing in the community, power... these things take you away from the feeling of oneness one can have that fulfills... replenishes... makes saints out of all of us perhaps, or at least humble, reasonable caring individuals... extreme kindness can easily be mistaken for weakness... weakness is an opportunity for aggression, for superiority... over nature, over other races, creed... so where am I going with this?
The fact that yesterday I was told that a conversation I was attempting to have with a gentleman would lead nowhere was extraordinarily insulting in the context of a forum designed for just such exchange. This, not just on one or two or three, but numerous occasions from members of this same SHARE coalition, whose objective is not to learn or to listen, grasp that perhaps the 35 years I have spend studying the biological systems of this earth amount to something... that perhaps I have something I can contribute to their community in terms of understanding... but this was not to be the case. In their eyes, I was but an old fool, out of step with the times.
Rather, as you walked in the door, you were immediately imposed by two giant laminated posters, which surely cost at least $1000 a piece each... depicting a white family on one, and a black family on the other... each were identical, but for the color of both families. These posters were so large, they obstructed the view of our table as you walked in the room. They were in the path of traffic... intentionally blocking vision and access to our table.
They came to filibuster! Pure and simple. To throw the race card into the proceedings... to claim being environmentalists, while peddling non-organic t-shirts which kill thousands of women in Asia from pesticide poisoning as young as 30 years old... as if our desire to see an aging, dangerous nuclear power plant be mothballed, be an overture for more coal fired plants... when in fact, if they only took the time to listen, they would learn that already hundreds of communities all over the country are switching to Light Emitting Diode lighting, which will in a matter of just a few years, as their cost dramatically plummets in mass production, reduce electrical consumption in this country, around the world, by as much as 60%! There won't be any need to build any new power plants, in fact we'll be able to progressively shut down many of the more polluting ones, also as solar and wind becomes more affordable with all the new nano-chemistries now in production.
I was reminded today of what it's really like to be a creature of this earth, by these simple words from Betcee May, the fashion model who lent her image to our first days developing this anti-nuclear campaign: "Living in the middle of Los Angeles, it is easy to lose track of our planet, our connection with the earth and ground and our human existence." This is what happens to us living with concrete under our feet for too long... we forget the air in our lungs comes from trees and oceans, the cars and the trucks, the power plants, coal and nuke alike, contribute to the destruction of our life's breath, and we must do something.
This something comes in the form of the balance green design and green technologies bring, new systems, not stepping backward to a technology that already has us leaving as legacy to future generations the responsibility of watching over the more dangerous poison known to man... a substance, if released to the atmosphere, without proper shielding, kills everything in its path for miles around, which doesn't discriminate.
If there is a singular issue that is more important than any other today in the green movement, it is nuclear power... radioactive isotopes are the most dangerous and lethal elements released to the environment... and right now, these isotopes are leaking below Indian Point, into the rock bed, into our ground water... reason enough to immediately shut down the plant and stop this insanity. And yet, the money that the plant makes, the millions in revenue it generates, allows this industry to lavish those in need with a mission they don't understand, other than the immediate relief a few checks, and new suits, can bring.
I spent the day looking to find how many environmental groups with people of color existed in America today... there are hundreds, and I guarantee you, that the majority do not support nuclear power as a solution to global warming... you can find them all on this page.
These NRC public meetings have become parodies, three ring circus, as I expected the first day I walked in one of them... organized and orchestrated by the industry to undermine and intimidate the people in the community who have already voted for their representatives... who in every county surrounding Indian Point have Congressmen and women, each asking themselves why democracy doesn't work in regards to the nuclear power industry. Why suddenly, environmentalists asking for an end to Entergy's autocracy are being labeled "terrorists," a "security threat" prohibited from taking a public tour of the plant like other tax paying citizens! Which makes the majority of Hudson Valley residents a threat to the plant's safety, doesn't it?
Our message isn't getting out at these meetings, because it falls on deaf ears and closed hearts, our own constituency has stopped attending... nobody wants to be subjected to this type of verbal and psychological abuse. Everywhere we go in the community, members of FUSE USA get nothing but pats on the back, and words of encouragement... but people have been so beaten down they also feel it's hopeless... that we're all crazy to waste our time doing this, that we should just let it be, let it go... stop making ourselves sick over it... there will be an accident one day, every one will say we told you so... man only learns from his mistakes, reacts to disaster, over and over and over.
Well, NO! I'm here to tell you, we're not going to let ourselves be manipulated and relegated to second class citizens because our sensivitivity tells us that something is wrong, dramatically wrong, and that if there is a guiding star, and if our species wants to restore balance on this earth... so beauty and kindness, will overcome selfishness and fear... this may be the place to make a stand. Save Manhattan! I might be naive, I might be washed away in my own idealism... but I want to beleive that we have a good team of people, who now represent a National coalition... we just need money and resources... media... support... because Entergy has millions to spend, while the older Shut Down Indian Point groups are just going through the motions.
We can stop them here. But it's suddenly been made so much harder by the millions Entergy gets to spend, money our electrical bills gives them... so they can wine and dine and bus hundreds of ringers into what should instead be a forum for local residents, and folks directly concerned by the fate of this plant, who live down wind and down water from it.
I want to ask again, why are none of the local representatives, who were all elected because of their firm stance on seeing Indian Point be decommissioned, not present at these hearings? What are they all afraid of? Why won't Robert Kennedy Jr. make an appearance? The night before, Robert was at yet another high paying speaking engagement at the fancy clothing store GANT in New York... while his organization was claiming credit for our work, allowing a tired Patrick Moore to grab the local television spotlight... spreading lies for his money... lies we all know, those of us who have lived through the history of nuclear electricity, we can't live with.

No comments: