The breeze breaths life into the limp leafs and branches on trees./

Stillness leaves the scene as soaring birds are seen flapping wings, possible the cause of the wind./

The air that we breathe in, blows everywhere in any season, from the seas into the cities and back to the seas again./

Did god bless us, or did we just sneeze again?

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Why cars are very bad

“Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.”
-Leonardo da Vinci.

Nature is no longer of our concern, as humans – at least for a majority of humans that take part in todays environmental meltdown, which has burned (like the fuel in a combustion engine) for the past 100+ years.  The modern citizen in today’s world has completely lost touch with the natural world which has groomed us, through evolution, for the past 100,000+ years.  With the advent of the automobile, our current culture’s already corrupt relationship with nature reached a new level of ignorance. As a result of the ever-expanding reach of personal automobiles, the environmental health of our planet has been irreversibly altered, along with the social, financial, and political attitude of our culture.
For Americans born within the past several decades, it’s almost impossible to believe that cars, highways, and wars for oil have truly been around for only the last century or so.  Roadkill is an everyday site and we are now completely desensitized by the death and destruction of wildlife, plants, and natural scenery that was once prevalent throughout the world.  In fact, any remote city or town without proper roads, traffic signals and gas stations, by todays standards, may be termed ‘developing.’  Developing into what?  What is it that we have developed into?  Does economic development correlate with environmental degradation?

Horseless carriages, or ‘cars’ for short, have completely taken over our everyday lives.  What was once a commodity is now looked at as a necessity.  Everyone, it seems, has a car; or if not, they are working towards getting a car.  It is virtually impossible to avoid the implications of personal car ownership; sounds, sights, smells, finances, attitudes, employment, and personal relationships are all adversely affected by the car.  As an ‘advanced society’ compared to those without the technology that we currently posses, we have not advanced much from the original  inception of a gas fed, steel bodied personal transport vehicle.  In fact, our advancements are really more like the opposite – we are digressing from what should be our primary goal; to use technology to continually make life better, to make transport easier, to create more free time, to save money, to preserve the environment, etc.

To make room for everyones’ car, we have converted acres upon acres of what was once wilderness into parking lots, countless numbers of which have already long since been abandoned as weeds grow through the cracks in the concrete.  We have streets that are too narrow for cars to drive on but are lined with parked cars.  Car owners have been known to stress over parking spot availability when they come home from work.  Parking spots in some congested cities can cost thousands of dollars a month; the price of which could easily pay for food/shelter for impoverished people around the world that most likely have never driven a car in the first place. We have multi million dollar parking garages. We have specialized public servants that enforce parking regulations, being sure to financially punish anyone who has violated parking policy; not to mention the police officers that pull you over while driving.  We take them everywhere with us: to work, to the grocery store, to the doctor, and even to the movies sometimes.  There is, however, a group of people, who have realized the extent of which we have lost control of the metaphorical car that we call life and, who would like to drive out current policies and collectively try going down a different road.

Monetarily, the cost associated with owning a car (compared with emotional cost) is astronomical when compared with other monthly expenses.  Besides mortgages or rent payments, a car can easily be the most costly monthly expense in a budget.  Without getting into specifics, it is universally understood there are certain financial responsibilities associated with car ownership: payments, insurance, gas, repairs, licences, registration, inspection, and routine maintenance are all variables in the equation that is car budgeting.  Psychologically, there are other ways that cars can affect us; ‘will my car start in the morning? will I be able to safely drive in the snow? how much traffic will there be? whats that rattling noise? I hope I don’t get pulled over? and other similar thoughts can overtly change a persons mood considerably on a day-to-day basis.

There is no point in trying to accurately pinpoint exactly when our ancestors truly stopped caring for nature, it has happened.  The current generational cycle that has been gradually sucking us farther into the oil black hole that is 2010, and beyond, started in the not-so-distant past, but it will end in the near future.  I’m sure there are those who would be silly enough to argue that it was Henry Ford who started the car craze of the early 1900′s – 1950′s.  There are others who could say that it started with the horse and buggy; after all, horses gave an enormous freedom and advantage over those who could not attain horse ownership.  And horses, like cars, have emissions in that they shit, which pollutes the environment – why do you think a car today is still measured in horsepower?  When animal’s power was harnessed by man, maybe that’s when this fiasco all began?  Either way, lets just imagine that the problem started yesterday – and that today, or more importantly tomorrow, will not get any better.  Traffic, smog, gas prices, accidents, and the environment will only get worse as more people denounce their relationship with nature and support the car industry.  So many people feel the need to buy, and drive, vehicles that ingest increasingly limited resources, to the point where all countries are environmentally affected.  But I hope that a proportionate amount of people also think about how much better our world could be if we decide to change now.

“Be the change that you want to see in the world”
— Mahatma Gandhi

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Ecology and Economy – only 2 letters off from each other….

The world economy has a constant growth model, regardless of its impact on the continued destruction and shrinkage of the world ecology.  Just two letters off from each other, ecology and economy, these two terms have a negative correlation; as industrialization and ‘development’ spreads to more remote regions of Earth, the few places left that have any real natural habitat, our planets ecology becomes less diverse and smaller.  If the corporate polluters that insist on increased profits, year after year, have their way, there may soon be no ecology to speak of – no natural forests, clean water reserves, fresh air, thousands of animal species, food.  For the environment, it’s mo’ money, mo’ problems for sure.  If money is the root of all evil, maybe that one root, the money root, will soon overrun our soil and wipe out the remaining plant life that is still allowed to grow freely.   Instead of a tree (money tree)taking over the world, let’s think of it as a hamster and see what happens…

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Ecopsychology and Dogs

My dog is one of the top 3 dogs in the world; a subjective claim that I have made, on more than one occasion, to complete strangers and with complete confidence.  As a puppy, Ninja was very rarely left alone for any extended period of time, and definitely never locked in a cage during the standard 9-5 work day; there was generally someone home with her always and she played on the beach often as a puppy.  As her personality has  continually developed, at 4 years old now, she displays characteristics of calmness, loyalty, docility, and playfulness that are universally acknowledged by all that come into contact with her (multiple offers to clone, buy, steal her have come, unsolicited) – for these reasons, she has been unofficially put into the top 3 dog category, worldwide.

Pets around the world are often kept in confinement, whether a cage or a home (which is just a giant cage really), for a great majority of their days and lives.  Ecosike teaches us that there is an undisputed calming effect that nature can provide, for humans, dogs, cats, fish, etc; pets can be severely hindered, mentally and physically, as a result of unnatural captivity.  While we may see, and understand, that wild animals brought into captivity do not adjust well, why is it that we don’t see that domesticated animals may also be living their life’s in a (white ‘collar’) prison of sorts.

Having a dog can certainly be emotionally rewarding and can greatly improve a persons overall mental health, by providing unconditional love and support, but dogs too need love in ways that humans cannot always provide – namely, natural play areas and extended outdoor time. By ensuring that we take care of our pets innate need to be outside in nature, we can also, inadvertently, satisfy our own needs to be outside in nature.  Forget the dog park, take your dog to the sate park for an afternoon and really get emerged, it will be good for the both of you!

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The 5 Stages of Grief – an Ecopsychological Perspective

The five stages of grief, as many of us have learned about at one point or another in psychology class, generally applies to the loss of a loved one, or the pending loss of ones own life, the death of a human being; however, there is an enormous amount of ecological death everyday and many of us are stuck on the first stage of grief: denial.  Whether we focus on the deforestation of our rain-forests, the pollution of our oceans, the constant emission of greenhouse gas, hazardous oil drilling, water poisoning, etc., many of us are in denial of the very serious nature of our current, capitalistic culture, that puts little to no value in the environment.

For those of us that have chosen to take more of an active role in the environmental movement, anger can begin to build as we realize that so many others are in denial about the severity of our current situation.  A simple conversation can turn to a heated debate when someone says ‘I don’t really care about (this, or that)’ and it becomes personal.  We are angry and decide that we will do more to educate others about the earth’s dire state, we begin bargaining by coming up with ways to prevent the death of our planet.  We recycle more, we eat more locally grown food, we drive less, in an attempt to postpone our eventual loss.

As we progress through the grief process, finally realizing that there is a definite global disaster looming, and we accept the fact that there is little we can do as individuals, our entire outlook on life can change.  The feeling of depression can become overwhelming as our natural environment continually degrades and we have no outlet to express our feelings and validate our mentalities with our peers.  Many of us, who have reached the fourth stage of grief become stuck in a constant state of depression, unable to go back to the blissful state of denial.  As unhealthy as depression sounds, and can be, it may be a better alternative than acceptance, the fifth and final stage of the grief process.

As an environmental activist, is it ok to accept that our earth may soon be dead?  Accepting that the looming environmental death of our planet is eminent seems to be a step backwards and may be inappropriate in this context.  Are we doomed to spend years, or even decades, pinned in between the first and last stages of grief, only to arrive at acceptance once we come to terms with the fact that we are closer to the end than many of us realize?  I, for one, am stuck somewhere between 2,3, and 4….

this post was inspired by the below documentary – great clip below!

Collapse – Documentary.

For more on the five stages of grief…

Posted in depression, ecopsychology | 3 Comments