Friday, July 11, 2008
Thorn and GW
Back in the 80's when Thorn was being born page by page, I decided to give him a passionate Thoreauvian quality. I was living in Key Largo at the time and watching the local environmental battles, and was shocked at how willingly the locals were being bribed and bullied into surrendering that beautiful island.
Thorn was never a strident environmentalist, but a man trying as best he can to live a simple life in harmony with nature. This was a time before carbon footprint and melting polar caps were common phrases in our vocabulary. It was a time when I (wrongly) believed that issues concerning the protection of the enviornment, particularly the Florida environment, would stir the same kind of passion I felt.
Not one to stand on a soapbox and give speeches about development and other Florida issues, Thorn is more of a poet, trying to lyrically describe the place he loves in language that would do it justice and perhaps inspire others to appreciate its subtle beauties and vulnerabilities. As much as I loved John D. MacDonald, I always found his anti-growth messages a bit dry and moralizing. I wanted to do that differently. Create the beauty and fragility and exoticness of the Florida landscape without getting all preachy about it.
I suppose I was naive. In the twenty years since Thorn first appeared,I've come to see how passionate the debate on both sides of these issues are. Though it is hard for me to fully understand how anyone could mock the seriousness of the global issues facing us today, both in Florida and around the world, I'm beginning to see that a segment of the population (especially in America) is so heavily invested in preserving "our lifestyle" that any criticism about the way Americans and American business and American government operates environmentally is often taken as an attack on the American culture as a whole.
But the overwhelming body of evidence is disturbing.
There have been world wars and great depressions and upheavals of various kinds before, but it seems clear to me, from seeing the dying coral reefs and observing the dramatically falling fish stocks around the world, and seeing in person the retreating glaciers in Alaska, and the destructions of millions of acres of forests due to infestation of insects that can now tolerate the slightly warmer temperatures, that Thorn's simple, withdrawn, non-soapbox approach is not sufficient anymore, and that the growing dangers facing all of us are so serious, so extreme, that inaction on a personal level and a governmental level is morally indefensible.
While this kind of inaction doesn't surprise me anymore, I am convinced that from the vantage point of a few years in the future most Americans will see this as something akin to criminal negligence.
If you want to read about two plans to combat what increasingly seems to be inevitable this article is fascinating. Well-written as all her pieces are.
The challenges of this new era are being taken on by some unlikely characters. What's exciting to me is that we're living through a revolutionary period in global terms. New technologies, new energy sources, and new visions of the future are emerging, and I'm hopeful that they may begin to save at least part of the planet. Only a few more months of this guy will certainly help.
In the meantime, Thorn's simple, low wattage choices fit right in. And there's an interesting movement underway that Thorn would approve.