Thundercloud & Eightball- Rants and Musings
Tree Hugging: A Common Sense Guide

A while ago I wrote about my son being a "Tree Hugger". I excused his behavior because of his age (a twenty-something). Most people, at that idealistic time of life, embrace tree hugging.  But, I think I was misunderstood. I was not denigrating my son. I would never do that. I love him very much. I called him a "tree hugger" in a light-hearted and good-natured way. I was kidding around with him. I was kidding around with you.

Some readers were upset because they thought I was espousing some sort of political agenda. Some considered my musings as promoting the conservative agenda. So, I thought I needed to set the record straight. Maybe "needed" is not the right word. I guess I just wanted to clear the air.

I began to give "tree hugging" a little thought and I found myself becoming more like my son. The child is the father to the man.

First, let me point out (and this may disappoint some of you who felt I was fighting for your particular side of the aisle) I'm not a Democrat; I'm not a Republican; I'm not a conservative, and I'm not a liberal. I don't even think I'd call myself a moderate or an independent.

This isn't about politics at all. It's about us. It's about our planet - the planet Earth - which is the only home we have. But, it seems that everyone these days wants everything neatly packaged. They need label to every package, so they know what is inside. When someone doesn't fit into one box, they try to stuff them in another. For whatever reason, people like to make package people and stick a label on them.  If you want to stick a label on me that's fine. Label me: "Human Being ".

Now, about tree hugging. Although I'm vastly older than my youngest son - the original tree hugger - I'm starting to believe in some of his tree hugging philosophy. Now, it takes a lot of courage for me to recant some of things I wrote earlier. Maybe it's my environmental conscience getting the best of me.

I still don't believe in global warming. I don't believe it's a major factor in the world's climatological cycles. We're rolling on through space and these cycles occur naturally over millions of years. I'm not so puffed-up with delusions of human superiority that I believe our existence can upset the balance of nature. Scientists of course, would vehemently disagree. And, I see some of you are rolling your eyes and mocking me with a  "Tsk! Tsk!". I ask that you at least hear what I have to say.

I'm going to tell you why you should be a tree hugger. And, it has nothing to do with melting glaciers, Al Gore, or the extinction of the poor, helpless polar bears. It has everything to do with you. And your children. And their children. And all the generations yet to come.  I'm going to tell you why selfishness is the reason you should be a tree hugger. All of us want what's best for ourselves and our children. That's pretty selfish when you think about it, isn't it?  But it is the way we are.

Clean Air

I don't want the atmosphere polluted because I don't want to breathe in all those little tiny hunks of stuff - stuff that will kill me faster than I'm already being killed. Every day we're alive we're all being killed by other things -like age.  Not one of us is going to leave this world alive. I just don't want my demise expedited.

All of us tippy-toe through a maze of life that features all kinds of nasty killers like cancer, heart disease, diabetes (and all the others you can conjure up on your own without my help), we certainly don't need to add the air we breathe to that deadly litany.

I'm quite certain that you don't want to live next to a factory that belches out huge volumes of smutty smoke, filled with all sorts lung-clogging, microscopic gooceefers. I don't want these little contaminated gooceefers in my moist, little, pink lungs.

None of us want cars, busses, and trucks spewing a trail of lung-clogging contaminates into the air we breathe either. Anything that cuts back on the amount of these vehicular pollutants that are pumped into the air every second, is good for you and good for me. It has nothing to do with global warming or some species of seals in the arctic to going belly-up -  I don't want the air polluted because I don't want to breathe it.

Truth be told, none of us want to breathe polluted air. We don't want our children to breathe it. And we don't want our grandchildren to breathe it. We all want to breathe the cleanest air possible. Environmentalist crusaders aside; global warming or not; we all want clean air for ourselves and our families. It is a selfish but valid reason for us to demand clean air. It has nothing to do with carbon footprints or melting glaciers or dying species. It has everything to do with common sense.

Oil And Other Natural Resources

Funny thing about oil. It used to be cheap. Cheap that is, until the money we poured into the Middle East made many Arabs billionaires and made them greedier too.  All that Western money built powerful things like Royal Families and terrorist groups that hate us. Ironic, isn't it?

Beside the stuff our Western oil money builds and funds - the fact is that oil is getting more and more expensive; the Earth has less and less of it and eventually we will run out of it. Now, finally, it appears the race has begun in earnest to see if our technology can find a solution before the oil runs out. It will be an interesting race considering it is not the supply or price of oil that drives the race, it is the powerful economic forces that drives it. If we allow money to control the race, I don't think technology will win - I think we'll run out of oil.

Fortunately, I think, the money coming from technologies being developed will soon exceed the money coming from oil, and in that case we win and we won't need whatever oil is left sloshing around underground anyway. Then the Arabs will be stuck with whatever oil is left and they'll have to find some other way to make a living. Maybe selling dates?

Whether the oil reserves are depleted in fifty years, a hundred years, or five hundred years, eventually it will all be gone. We plunder the Earth like there is no tomorrow but tomorrow always comes, eventually.

The facts are these: The Earth has only so much oil. We are using it up. Eventually there will be no more oil. No more oil is being made, and even if nature is making oil as I write this, it is not making it faster than we are using it up.

Therefore, I am for using renewal resources to power our need to move and move things about. Whether that be fuel made from hydrogen, corn, stinkweed, banana peels or some other renewable resource, I'm all for it. If that makes me a tree hugger, then I'm a tree hugger.

One thing is certain: We will run out of oil. Whether it happens to our children, or our children's children or their children, it will happen. So it only makes sense to take whatever steps we need to take now to get ourselves off a dead-end road and on to a road that leads to the future. That future of course, being the future we are building right now for our children, our grandchildren and our grandchildren's children - and beyond.

None of this has to do with global warming, the extinction of animals, rising sea levels, or environmentalists who tell us the sky is falling - it's just common sense.

The Rain, The Park, And Other Things

The Earth is being plundered at an accelerated rate. Technology has given mankind the means to plunder it more efficiently than ever before. Technology marches on and mankind's ability to rape and plunder the Earth will get even more efficient.

A couple generations ago, some forward-thinking people set aside vast areas of land which we call "National Parks" and "National Forests". They set aside vast areas known as "Wildlife Preserves" and they did all of this so that their children and their children's children could enjoy the wonders of nature as it was meant to be - nature without the meddling of mankind. This was a good thing but we don't see much of this going on now. While we are beneficiaries of the wonderful natural treasures, our generation does not seem to be as concerned about what we will leave to our children and the generations to come.

Everyday, millions of trees are plundered, rainforests razed, and our natural resources depleted. And as the population grows it will only gets worse - unless we all do something soon.

As long as there is money to be made by pillaging forests, plundering limited natural resources, and raping rain forests, it will continue. Someone will continue do these things as long as there is money to be made. And it will continue to make people rich as long as the demand for products made from these resources continues. In essence, the people who buy these products are they engine that drives it. And the money made from the plundering of the Earth pays for the advertising which creates the demand for the products made from the resources which we are rapidly depleting. It is a complicated and nearly never-ending cycle that may only end when there is nothing left to plunder.

But the answer to the problem isn't crusading scientists with their complicated postulations. Nor is it the cadre of global-warming alarmists whose attempts to scare us into action will grow old and tiresome.

I'm not smart enough to know what the answer is.  One thing I have figured out: It always comes down to money. If it weren't profitable to plunder and pillage the Earth, it wouldn't be plundered and pillaged. But, are we ready to give up the products that drive the pillaging and plundering?  I'm not sure. I am equally unsure if there is anyone smart enough to figure out the complex enigma that man has created.

I don't think the answer lies with the reactionary environmentalists - the kind of people who want to ban wind power because a few birds may happen to fly into the turbine blades.

I don't think that the answer is the Al Gores of the world whose motivations may not be the Earth's future at all - but may be more political or economic than environmental. We have no way of knowing, for sure, what his motivations really are. Yet, on the other hand, Al Gore's motivations may not be at issue. Maybe it does not matter why he does what he does, maybe it is enough that at least he is trying to do something. Do the means justify the end? It seems to me the more people that are trying to do something the better off we will all be.

When it comes right down to it, we are not liberals, conservatives, Republicans or Democrats -we are all brothers and sisters - we all are human beings - and we all share this one pale blue dot situated in a remote solar system in some far off corner of the Milky Way.

It only makes sense that we all want the air we breathe to be clean. It only makes sense to use renewable resources as much as we possibly can and encourage the development of newer and better ways of using renewable resources. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come to the realization that we can only plunder the Earth for so long before there will be nothing left to plunder. Continuing to allow the reckless plundering of natural resources does not make any sense - unless of course the legacy you want to leave to future generations is that you just didn't care.

I have to admit there's a little tree hugger in me. I like to think that my grandchildren will have a change to visit Yellowstone and see how beautiful nature can be. I like to think that our generation still has a chance to create many more beautiful places like Yellowstone that our grandchildren and theirs can enjoy.

I like to think my grandchildren will be able to look up and see a clear, bright blue October sky and know what I mean when I tell them about the nitrogen-blue skies of the autumn days of my childhood. I like to think that my grandchildren's children will be able to look up on some clear, dark winter night and see as many stars in the sky as I did when I was a child, so long ago. A child who looked up in wonder at the grandeur and the beauty of the universe and saw thousands of stars twinkling in the winter sky and wondered what it all means.

I like to think that mankind will find, once again, the lost resource known as "common sense". We don't need crusaders who want to motivate us with fear. We don't need scientists to tell us the sky is falling and we're all going to die. We need people with common sense who see what is happening and are are willing to do what they can do to preserve as much of this beautiful planet as they can. For themselves - and for all those who come after.

Jonas Salk once said that our top-job is be "good ancestors".  I like to think that my grandchildren and yours - and all the generations that follow - will look back upon us and see that we cared enough to at least try to make the world a better place. And that they will see us as a generation that did all we could do to meet the challenges of our time.

I'm glad I thought about this. I do have a little tree hugger in me. And you know what? I'm proud of it. Starting today I'm going to do whatever I can do, no matter how small a thing, to make this world a little better place tomorrow than it is today. I wonder what would happen if everyone on Earth did the same? Can you imagine?


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