Monday, October 15, 2007
It is Blog Action Day. We're supposed to do an environmentally motivated post. The point is to get people thinking, but I find that environmentally motivated things are more likely to CLOSE ears than to OPEN them.
The best thing a writer can do when trying to shift popular opinion or habit (environmental or otherwise) is to avoid being preachy. For crying out loud, we all learned to automatically block preachy tones by age 4.
You already know that it's impossible to reliably measure your impact on the environment. Maybe you think the evidence is conclusive, or maybe not. Maybe you trust the sources, or maybe not. We can argue until we're dead and still never agree. So let's avoid it.
What we do know and can talk about is how the environment affects us. We're people, and we're affected by everything from the earth's rotation to the rain to the little planetary events that we call "natural disasters". We can all have a similar perspective on size and magnitude. That'll simplify the discussion, right?
You know what? I'll get right to the point. I will tell you point blank what I want to shift.
I want you to think about where jewelry comes from.
If we're talking about things related to weddings, there are very limited sources. We're excluding macaroni art. Let's filter innately hippie things, too, like crowns of twisted vine, or I dunno, twigs in your hair. Yeah, let's go straight to Gold, Silver, Platinum, Pearl, Diamond, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, and so on. That's where the money is.
This is easy. It all comes from one place: the ground. We have to dig up the earth, find it, and somehow filter it. One method of getting gold is called panning, and it's not commercially viable. Moot. Actually, most of the world's gold comes from hard rock mining, and the most popular method of processing that ore is Gold Cyanidation. (Wikipedia is not generally considered a reliable source, in that you can't cite it on term papers and the like, but it is a great place for starting your research.) This is a process through which gold is dissolved into water with the help of a lot of cyanide. The cyanide is left over, and contained.
What do we know about Cyanide? Will, the above wiki page says that cyanide has a "highly poisonous nature," but do we believe that? It depends on the form of the cyanide. Some forms are actually beneficial. Apple seeds and almonds contain cyanide. That means it's natural, right? Well, yeah. But natural doesn't mean good. Nor does it mean bad. So where does that leave us? There is obvious evidence that cyanide can get in the water supply through leaks, accidents, or incidents. There is very conclusive evidence that when this happens, it kills almost everything it comes into contact with. People are advised to NOT drink the water, so they survive. It is obvious not a good thing. But there is evidence that the cyanide partially breaks down fairly rapidly, and microorganisms can fully recover in just over a couple weeks. So where does that leave us?
Thinking, hopefully. Maybe even reading more.
Gems and Jewels
How about we stop here? Let's not talk about conflict diamonds. Let's not talk about horrible working conditions, indentured servitude, slavery, or jobs that destroy your health without even offering health care. I don't want to think about drowning pearl divers. I don't want to know how much energy it takes to produce an artificial diamond.
It's hard to think about the environment. We've been bombarded by information from unreliable sources, for one. For another, we have to think about where this would ultimately lead. What if we agreed that burning oil was bad? We would have to stop driving NOW. We would have to stop consuming power NOW. How would we have light or news or anything? It's not like we can go back to burning whale oil!
Obviously there's no single, definable answer that can be handed out to everyone. This is a massive, huge, whole-earth issue. People can't even fully agree if it's actually a problem. Without that fundamental agreement, how can it be solved?
Well, we can do what we can do, can't we? I still have to get to work, and I'm not willing to move closer. But I do have a coworker who lives near me, and we could carpool at least 3 or 4 days a week. Only we work different shifts. So I changed mine. Sure, it won't be AS convenient, but there are benefits, too. Gas will cost about half as much, for instance. And only one of us will have to deal with the stress of driving each day. Ultimately, it will be a good thing.
And I need to email her about that, to see if she'd be interested. I think I'll do that now.
Think for yourself, my friends. Challenge both sides to find the truth. Make your own decisions, and really act on them. Accept responsibility for your life, and live in a way that makes you proud.