We have to “connect the dots,” and when we are faced with a roadblock, healthy people pivot.
I loved teaching preschool. I was the teacher/director of a parent participation nursery school, a position that combined my loves of working with young children and serving as a guide for parents as they increased their skills as both parents and teacher aids in the school. I would have stated in that job if not for one thing: the pay scale matched the hours, half day/ half pay, and the school had no desire to extend the school day and add a kindergarten. I was faced with a choice: abandon my financial commitment to my family or stay at the school. I had to connect the dots and pivot, and I learned to “love” working in a public school although it was not my first choice.
Our planet is facing a number of man-made crises, as it barrels toward a possibility of no longer sustaining life. Our solutions can be found in many places, from wealthy individuals, contributing millions of dollars to alter the path of destruction, to committed individuals aligning with organization supporting a life-saving path of healing the earth.
If we start locally, maybe we can marshall the personal responsibility for our planet. In my own corner of California, we have experienced a number of concerning situations aimed at destruction of a bit of our world. Aliso Canyon and La Ballona Wetlands both show up as “dots,” encroachments of the gas and oil industries on the safety of life on land and in the oceans. Industries poised to harm cohabit with residential neighborhoods as well as natural ecosystems, while public relations officers cozy up and offer financial incentives to support oil and gas. What is your life worth? What is our planet worth?
Many people are moved to find ways to address the troubling specter that looms above us as the resources of the earth evaporate right before our eyes. For some this reality is yet another dot, pointing to human pivoting.
Andrea Leon-Grossmann serves as the Deputy Director of Azul, an organization that supports ocean and coastal conservation. Andrea is one of those people who has committed her life to protecting Earth’s environment and all life within it, and I appreciate her dedication on my and the world’s behalf. She is among my “go to” experts when I have a question about environmental issues.
Although I have been very aware of the potential dangers of gas and oil locally, a national story broke through as my third dot. Oil and gas workers in Utah, the kinds of people whose support was cultivated by our current president, have been the front line of our use of gas and oil. While we contemplate buying a gas or electric stove, these brave and trapped people, having no other options for livelihood, do the pedal to the metal tough work to make oil and gas fuel possible despite erractic and dangerous, sometimes lethal.
I’ve known someone who worked on oil rigs,, putting aside the injuries and personal costs he amassed doing the work that would let him support his child financially. One wonders: why do we continue barbaric technologies when clean and safe forms of energy are a few votes and financial support away? Why do we support dangerous and costly technology, like fracking, that endangers our water supplies and encourages earthquakes? It’s time for the gas and oil industries to pivot.
Leon-Grossman described to me the real cost of oil and gas consumption. A worker in Kern County, California was burned to death by steam because of the “unconventional techniques, like steam cycling, used to extract hydrocarbons from shale rock.” Within minutes, the oil attorneys appeared at the scene, offering a large settlement to the deceased worker’s family, urging the incident to be hushed instead of bringing attention to the tragedy.
We can connect these dots and more. People who need good jobs, protected neighborhoods, and abundant resources for energy. Industries that operate in opposition to human safety and Earth’s future, not just gas and oil. Oh, yes, there is the Amazon burning, even with the offer of help from world leaders.
Let’s connect the dots. Let’s look for the leaders who inspire us to do better. Because there is this:
What will you do today that matters?