Yesterday while stopped at an intersection waiting for the light to change, I scanned the "cars" waiting there with me. A tally from the rear and side view mirrors revealed twelve vehicles. Total population of my small community? Fourteen. I rescanned the mirrors. Of the twelve, only three were cars. The other nine, or 75%, were big SUV's or pick-ups.
I thought about the recent global warming summit and Al Gore's "elephant in the room," the United States. As Gore reminded and, as is so often the case these days, my nation defies world opinion. It's as if our leadership has a global death wish, not just for us, but for most life on Earth to include all coral reefs, whales, penguins and their grandchildren. But if doomed, at least we shall go down in our gas guzzler 4x4 off-road SUV's that never leave the pavement and our V-8 F-150 pick-ups that seldom carry more than 30-40 lbs. of groceries in their 1/2 and 3/4 ton truck beds.
Just an hour or so earlier I was reading of Oklahoma's last ice storm; of people still without electricity a week later. Those who refused to leave their homes had spent the last 7-8 days in the darkness of those homes, freezing and praying for electricity. Others, who went to a hotel for a night or two are still "on vacation" in those hotels that have depleted their savings. Or there were those who bought generators for electricity but ran out of money to fuel them. A brief span of dramatic weather that reveals so many Americans living on the edge.
I thought of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee who in his 1997 children's book, “Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence,” (a nice one to read your kids to sleep with) wrote, “Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities.” I thought "Wow!" and wondered if Huckabee still feels environmentalism as repulsive as pornography? Certainly, it's consequences will be more repulsive if continued to be ignored.
My focus upon momentary distractions was suddenly broken by a green light in front of my little community. Pressing down on our gas pedals, the exhaust discharges that may ultimately kill us all once more surged from our tailpipes. Life is good. With the independence carbon based fuels has given us, our little community of vehicles, each with 1.167 individuals in them, broke allegiance with one another, speeding on down the road to their next brief pause with fellow travelers rushing into a future of eco-disaster.
I couldn't help but wonder if the very oil based fuel now burning in our engines isn't maybe the result of another species in another era, perhaps several mass extinctions prior to our own, formed of the same arrogance and folly of their time? If maybe the ultimate destiny of man and the plant and animal kingdom that he now enjoys, exploits and takes for granted won't end up as the fuel inside someone's -- or something's --
internal combustion engine millions of years from now?
And maybe, if many millions and millions of years from now 'down the road' of Earth's future it is we who will fuel the folly of another pack of successors racing towards their own extinction, how ironic will that be? That is, of course, assuming Earth survives our own arrogance.