"We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children."
~ Native American proverb
Reading Al Gore's book, "An Inconvenient Truth," about global warming and our current state of planetary emergency, I realize we're actually fortunate he's not in the Oval Office, ensnared in the vast political machine. Instead of a sitting president, Gore is setting precedent: as an Earth steward, he has laid out for us all, cleanly and with humor, why the way we conduct our lives now matters monumentally-and how we each have a stake in the outcome.
He writes, "If denial is not a river in Egypt, despair is not a tire in the trunk." There's no time to dither, no point to defeat, because we are all canaries in the global coalmine. And this tiny blue speck in space (as seen from a satellite four billion miles away) is "our only home." It sort of telescopes everything else-such as what to have for dinner, whether we'll contract avian flu, or where the latest war has erupted-into stark focus.
Gore says, "We're witnessing a collision between our civilization and the Earth. We can't just mindlessly continue the patterns of the past. Our moral imperative to make big changes is inescapable."
He understands the macro issue from a micro perspective: his beloved older sister, Nancy, who began smoking at age thirteen, died in midlife from lung cancer. Gore's family used to operate a tobacco farm. After her death, his father gave it up. For decades, we downplayed the Surgeon General's warning. Today, with the link between smoking and cancer clearly established, close to 100,000 young people worldwide still take up the habit daily.
Like Gore, I've long understood what's happening viscerally, as one of the human canaries who is "environmentally sensitive". It's an odd label: as though skyrocketing levels of pollutants are normal, and I'm the aberration. While it makes life more challenging, I do my best to educate others in casual encounters. It's human nature to ignore or fear what we don't understand-or that doesn't appear to directly affect us.
But the number of people who are affected-or soon will be-is mushrooming, like an atomic cloud. When I published an article earlier this year linking endocrine disrupting chemicals with women's health problems (http://www.emagazine.com/view/?3010), women and men from across the U.S. called and e-mailed for months, seeking additional information and medical referrals.
"Environmentally sensitive" people (an estimated 10-40 percent of the U.S. population) are part of our global warning: we are a voice for the trees, the oceans, our animal kin. It's only a matter of perspective-and time-until we can no longer pretend that climate change isn't altering our reality more surely than any psychotropic substance. Architects in the Netherlands, which is located below sea level, have already developed floating buildings.
As we approach the second coming of Atlantis, we're being called to remember that we are all resourceful-full of resources-and that we can re-Source ourselves from the infinite well of creative energy.
Sustainable technology is within our purview. We need only engage more of our elemental mind. Solar (fire), wind (air) and hydro (water) power are available, viable, and affordable. So far we've only tapped petroleum (earth) to its potential-and this doesn't even include biofuels.
The bumper of a healer's car carries the Aboriginal message, "The more you know, the less you need." The most joy-filled people on Earth aren't the most consumptive; they're the ones who remember our connection with all life, and live that connection as a prayer to both the ancestors and future generations. What they "know" comes not from textbooks but from ensouled wisdom.
So the question remains: will we choose to transform our errors of emission into values of volition? Can we regain a penchant for all species' survival, which was imprinted in our cellular memory eons before we grew the desire for more horses under the hood?
In a sense, it's a collective conscious evolution exam. We have already united as one mind, one planet, in a moment of focused emergency: to ban CFCs and begin to close the hole in our ozone layer.