The finite nature of nature’s capacity

Dear President Trump,

I just checked your schedule for today and it looks like you took this Labor Day off. Don’t presidents usually do some pro-labor sort of thing on Labor Day? I just Googled “President Obama Labor Day” and found a slew of recordings of Labor Day addresses he gave over the years. Hmm. Maybe you didn’t want to be accused of copying him or maybe you were too busy cajoling and threatening to get Congress to take it easy on Kavanaugh this week. However you spent the day, I’m sure it was doing pretty much exactly what you wanted to be doing.

Us too, really. We got some major yard work done this morning and then ran errands. On the way home we got stuck behind an old BMW that was spewing a lot of black smoke. As we waited for the light to change, I internally fussed about all the nasty emissions and what a drag it is that cars like that can be on the road. I realized, though, that I actually have no idea how bad the emissions are that come from our car. Then I wondered how different things would be if cars had been designed so that the exhaust was released from the front where the occupants can see it and smell it, would have to breathe it. Somehow I think we wouldn’t have nearly the issues with global warming that we do since we’d have figured out long ago how to make whatever conveyances would have developed run cleanly so that we weren’t choking on our own effluvium.

Seven or eight years ago I read an article about an urban family that generates no waste, not even yard waste or recycling. No plastic containers of yogurt, no waxed cartons of milk or OJ, no nothing. They haunt me. Relatively speaking we don’t generate all that much garbage (we do recycle a lot and often have a full yard waste bin), but we aren’t exactly walking lightly on the earth. Sometimes I imagine that the kids in that other family sneak take-out burgers and revel in crumpling up the foil wrappers and greasy paper bags when they aren’t with their mother. I find it comforting to think of them rebelling some and deigning to be regular for a little while.

The Buddha talked about striving for moderation in all things, but what is a moderate amount of pollution?

May we be safe to breathe all the air.
May we be willing, if not happy, to take stock of our output.
May we develop the collective will to give our planet a chance to heal.
May we make peace with the finite nature of nature’s capacity.

Tracy Simpson

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