Sunday, April 22, 2012
The Earth Needs More Than a Day: Why We Occupy (Part 1)
By Mickey Z.
"The earth is not dying. It is being killed, and the people killing it have names and addresses.” -Utah Phillips
April 22 is—wait for it—“Earth Day.”
Tragically, far too many of us humans live insulated within a culture so disconnected from its literal landbase that we have to set aside one day a year to acknowledge the existence of the mortal coil upon which we dwell.
Mic Check: Planet Earth doesn’t need a “day.” Planet Earth needs an army of informed and dedicated defenders.
- 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste are discharged into U.S. waters annually.
- Every second, 10,000 gallons of gasoline are burned in the United States.
- Each year, Americans use 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides.
- 81 tons of mercury is emitted into the atmosphere each year as a result of global electric power generation.
Earth Day Fun Fact: If every person in the United States did everything suggested in the film, An Inconvenient Truth, carbon emissions would fall by a mere 21 percent.
For those of you scoring at home, that’s a one-time, 21 percent reduction in carbon emissions when most responsible scientists are calling for a 75 percent reduction.
We compost, we drive hybrids, we bring our own bag to the market, but meanwhile, mega-polluters—like transnational corporations and the U.S. Department of Defense—are committing ecocide with little or no resistance.
Mic Check: The Earth needs a lot more than a single fuckin’ day of touchy-feely denial and greenwashing...
- 40 percent of U.S. rivers and 46 percent of U.S. lakes are too polluted to support aquatic life.
- 80 percent of the rivers in China are too polluted to support aquatic life.
- Every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.
- The Mississippi River carries 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year—resulting each summer in a dead zone about the size of New Jersey.
A few weeks ago, while standing near the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) InfoDesk at Union Square Park, I was confronted by a passerby (a person of color, in fact) who called me a “fool” to be in any way connected with Occupy. “You people don’t even know what you want,” he bellowed.
Me: “I know what I want.”
Him: “What? Tell me.”
Me: “I wanna see the entire system brought down. It’s based on relentless growth, it’s unsustainable, and thus, it’s anti-life. We have to create change now before there’s nothing left to be changed.”
My reply changed one thing: his facial expression. He gaped at me in utter disbelief but still dodged my point—focusing instead on explaining how smart he is.
Me: “Okay, since you know so much, perhaps you can tell me how much of the planet’s forests are already gone?”
Him: “What has that got to do with anything? I knew you people were fools.”
Sadly, that conversation wasn’t atypical of my interactions with those who mock OWS and defend the status quo. Cultural conditioning runs deep—even when it’s diametrically opposed to our most fundamental needs.
- Each year, the United States loses about 1 percent of its topsoil to erosion—75 percent of original U.S. topsoil has already been lost.
- 85 percent of U.S. topsoil loss is directly associated with livestock raising.
- 150-200 animal and plant species go extinct every 24 hours.
- The global meat and dairy industries slaughter billions of animals each year and are responsible for 51 percent of human-created greenhouse gases.
At both Zuccotti Park and Union Square, I’ve heard passersby yell out: “Get a job.” Such folks are probably part of the 99% but have opted to the let the corporate media do their thinking for them and therefore, now perceive the occupiers as “selfish and lazy.”
In doing so, they ironically choose to ignore the economic issues that spawned OWS in the first place while tacitly offering support for maintaining a rigged system based on rampant inequality—a system that offers them nothing but misery.
It appears the “get a job” crowd would rather aim their growing anger and fear at a random protestor they believe may not have a job than at the global criminals responsible for consuming, poisoning, and killing our shared ecosystem.
Mic Check: Even if every jobless occupier found paid work, there would still be dioxin in every single mother’s breast milk.
Why We Occupy:
- 200,000 acres of rain forest are destroyed each day.
- 13 million tons of toxic chemicals released across the globe.
- 80 percent of the world’s forests are gone.
- 90 percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone.
We occupy because we’ve reached the point of no return.
We occupy because minor changes are not nearly enough.
We occupy because we must stop acting like we’re the last generation of humans.
We occupy because we don’t want our legacy to be one of inaction and shame.
We occupy because here’s the most inconvenient truth of all: it’s time to embrace a darker shade of green.
We occupy because we’re the ones the planet has been waiting for.
We are the 99%. Expect us. Join us…
#OccupyDarkGreen. #OccupyTheEarth. #Occupy4TheEarth.
Upcoming Mickey Z. event in NYC: Why Occupy? One Planet, One Struggle (May 6)
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