Global warming, it seems, is much like the weather: everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything. Well, that’s not true. Some of us are driving more fuel efficient cars, riding our bicycles, recycling our newspapers, reading by energy efficient lightbulbs. Some of us even buy carbon offsets to ease our burdened consciences.
But in our hearts, we all know that we’re not doing enough. We look to big industrial plants in China spewing their poison into the air, and think: “What’s the use?”
Well, ponder this:
“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation… even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” —Great Law of the Iroquois
What if we considered the consequences of every action we took as it would impact our planet 140 years hence? Would we trample as much of our environment as we do? Would we have as many children? (Would we grant celebrity to status to those who have 8, 14, 18 children?)Would we enact stricter laws so that our children’s children’s children (x7)… would have fresh water, clean air, fertile crop fields, a healthy ecology and abundant wildlife?
Consider the two-generation effect of damming a couple of important rivers in the west. Salmon runs are endangered because the salmon can’t reach their spawning grounds. Sea lions hang at the fish ladders and eat their fill, so we shoot the sea lions. The bears can’t eat the spawned-out salmon and poop their nutrient-rich waste into the forest, which nourishes the trees. We put one dam on the river and we’ve upset the entire applecart. Do we blow up the dam? No. Damn the seventh-generation! We need electricity to run our air conditioners!
Would the Iroquois have dammed the river? How about shooting wolves from airplanes? How about planting genetically-altered corn? How about sucking all the oil from the earth and replacing those empty spaces with salt water? How about throwing our chemical waste in the lakes, rivers and oceans? How about storing our nuclear waste in leaking underground bunkers? What, pray God, will be the consequences of all these actions in 140 years?
A seventh-generation amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been proposed, but the language is too vague for me. I fear for its viability in our greedy, litigious society. It reads: “The right of citizens of the United States to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight and other renewable resources determined by the Congress to be common property shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for use of future generations.” So it isn’t perfect. Let’s work on it.
I ask you to do something concrete to help our planet and our species. I ask you to spend some time seriously considering the seventh-generation consequences to each of your actions today, and then make your voice heard. Call, fax, email, write your legislators, both state and federal. Write letters to the editor. Pass along this blog link. Call the president. Call Al Gore.
I’ll be doing all those things and more.
Listen. The Iroquois knew what they were talking about, and we should have listened long ago. If we work hard now, we can perhaps avoid global catastrophe. If the time for this idea has come, their words could sail around the world in a viral fashion and we just might be able to mobilize the masses. When that happens, change occurs.
Let’s do it.