During World War II, the American people rationed everything from gasoline to meat to clothing. They gathered up scrap metals, planted Victory Gardens and made do with what little they already had. They found bizarre uses for strange objects, such as saving waste fat from cooking for bombs. They sacrificed car bumpers, started car sharing clubs, and gave up travel.
They did this because the world was in crisis. They sacrificed so the soldiers could have more. Americans at home were as much a part of the war effort as the soldiers in Europe.
Why can’t we do this now? Not for the War in Iraq, but for our world, our environment, in crisis? What our world is facing today is far more serious than any war we’ve ever faced in the past. We’re facing complete and utter extinctinction of the entire human race.
Does that sound far-fetched? Paranoid? Fear mongering?
I don’t think so. I’m not talking today, tomorrow, or even one hundred years from now. But if we keep consuming at the current rate, it will happen, and probably sooner than we think.
Look at the facts. Remember that plastic island in the Pacific Ocean I talked about a few weeks ago?
Plastic was invented in the 186os. It only came into popular use in the 1920s, and has grown since then. It’s now nearly impossible to buy anything, from clothes to food to toys to vehicles, that aren’t made in some part from plastic. So in less than a century, we’ve created a massive continent of plastic in our oceans, filled our landfills, and poisoned our bodies.
Of course, plastic is just the tip of the ice burg, so to speak. The little things we do every day: turn on a light, fill our cars with gasoline, and take a shower…they all have a big impact on our planet.
We can all save and conserve all we want, but until our government steps behind us and forces big corporations to do the same, we won’t see any big changes. Sounds depressing doesn’t it? Does it make you want to give up? Put regular light bulbs back in your sockets? Throw out your shopping bags and answer “plastic” when asked the predictable question at the grocery store? Quit recycling?
I certainly hope not. That’s not my intention! Because without the little people doing these small efforts, we won’t inspire our leaders to make their own sacrifices. To inspire them to stop thinking only about money, and to start thinking about a real future for our world.
Our government has inspired us to do without before, and we were happy to do it. Why won’t they get behind the scientists and environmentalists and do it again? No, they are too busy encouraging us to get out there and spend, spend, spend. There has to be an solution to our environmental problem that doesn’t involve simultaneously killing our economy.
We have to do something NOW. We all need to work together. We’re all on the same team here! There is no evil Gestapo doing this to us, we’re doing it to ourselves. We won’t find the perpetrator hiding out in a cave, and we can’t solve the problem by blowing things up. We CAN do it, I know we can.
Life appeared on earth four hundred million years ago, and in only two centuries of industrialization, we’ve poisoned our world. We’ve filled our skies with smog, rivers with pollution, and drained many of our resources. What could we possibly do if given another two hundred years?
(This post was inspired by my mom and a discussion we had about the WWII rationing. Thanks a lot, Mom!)