What’s The World Coming To?

By Bob Batch

There are times, no matter how optimistic you try to be, that you just have to wonder what will become of this world. There are some things that seem beyond the control of all our efforts to make the world right. We, all of us collectively, seem determined to follow a course that is wrong even when we know better. There’s a common defense plea for it actually, the Flip Wilson defense, “The devil made me do it.”

Bob Batch

Putting aside the claims of people who say they were commanded to commit atrocities by imaginary beings and all, the rest of us have only ourselves to blame when we knowingly do things that aren’t in our best interests. But collectively, there are lots of things we are part of that we can’t effectively determine even if our intentions are good and we act on them.

As an example, I know the way to eat properly and that I can optimize my health and feel better about myself without any trendy diet plans, quick fixes, and special herbs or fat melting products. If I don’t make the sensible healthy choices it’s not really the fault of food manufacturers, my upbringing, advertisers or anybody but me. I just have to do it.

If I am concerned about the environment, be it the tons of trash we can’t find a place for anymore, oil spilling all over the place, greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere or giant conglomerations of plastic bottles floating around in the oceans; I can recycle, protest, and go green as hard as I want but without everyone else joining in it’s not going to do much.

I’d like to think there’s still a chance we’ll all have a ‘Kumbaya’ moment around the world, but it’s looking more and more like the Age of Aquarius passed us by back when the Fifth Dimension was singing about it in the seventies. For some reason a lot of us can’t be bothered doing the right thing sometimes, even if we know what it is. I should know, I’ve been one of those people all my life.

But that aside, I was having a discussion the other day about the California drought which is becoming so severe that restaurants there may have to ban the practice of giving customers a glass of water with their meal. (Just imagine!) But that’s only one of the small idiotic ways we waste water even when there’s not a drought.

Even when reservoirs are low and officials are warning that we could run out of water any day people will not give up on watering their lawn. Somehow in the early twentieth century the bizarre notion took hold in a segment of the population that cultivating a lawn is a sacred and moral duty to be performed without regard to any and all reason. “Your neighbor hath planted a lawn and therefore thou shalt plant one also. And thou shalt fertilize and water it even during times of famine and drought.” I think it’s the thirteenth commandment in the Book of Malarky.

While I certainly respect the amount of effort people put into their lawns, and I don’t want to throw cold water on the whole prepping for spring with the Scott’s Turf Builder, I have to wonder, what the use of grass is anyway. I could understand growing something you could eat, but lawn grass can’t be eaten or smoked, and is only good for mulch you can grow more grass with that you have to keep cutting and making into more mulch and so on.

Naturally, it’s not enough to grow regular old grass anymore (Which would grow by itself anyway) the desire for lawns is that they be perfectly and uniformly green, and so we have resorted to chemical fertilizers and weed killers which we are pouring into the soil and water table at risk to our health. But it’s worth it to have a nice lawn.

I expect if you took all the area that we waste on lawns in the world and used it to grow food we’d have more than enough to feed all of the starving kids we see in those ads that ask you to send sixty cents a day to help feed them. Of course, after we start feeding them the population of the world will increase again and we’ll be back in the same situation, but at least you won’t have to mow your lawn every week.

I admit I am sympathetic to the people concerned about the big problems that affect us all – the climate change, food shortages, inequitable distribution of resources and wealth, but you are fighting a tough fight when you try to get people to do the right thing about any of it- Especially people who are benefiting personally from something no matter how negatively it affects others.

Look how long it took to get cigarette companies to take a little responsibility for something everyone knew was bad for your health. Granted, people knew they were hurting themselves by smoking, but ultimately the people producing the product are responsible for its existence. I actually knew top executives for Phillip Morris and I will tell you they did not smoke. Yet, they continued to defend their business because there was big money in it and they could weasel out of blame by pointing the finger at the very victims of smoking, and feign ignorance of its harmful effects. They even made sure people believed that their rights were being violated when someone was trying to stop them from doing something stupid.

So it is with the carbon- based fuel debates, the role of Government, and big money’s dominance of public policy. We’ve turned into spectators letting a few entertainers posing as news reporters pretend to enlighten us about events they treat as contests and morality tales which are forgotten as soon as their shock value wanes.

The history of civilization is full of societies that just did not see the writing on the wall and would keep on going to the well until it ran dry. I’d like to think our civilization will beat those odds with all our science and know how, because this time it won’t be some stone city state or Iron age empire that crumbles. It would be the whole planet.


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