esposito's box
Friday, March 18, 2005
  Things Not to be Undone
Taking interest in environmental causes has led me to pay attention to ANWR and the unceasing desire some have held to add a few barrels to oil reserves and many dollars to a few pockets. What a disappointment. For so much of the rightist onslaught on social programs in this country, I have salved my worries by telling myself this overreaching will lead inevitably to a more progressive rise in government, which, in turn, returns more socially-conscious programs.
Unfortunately, wilderness cannot be brought back. Those who argue that people precede nature should bear in mind that ANWR pits people against people. Chicago Tribune reports that Episcopal Bishops are lining up behind those in opposition to Republican designs:

"Bishop Mark McDonald of Alaska said President Bush's plan to allow drilling--which the Senate supported Wednesday in a 51-49 vote--would destroy the habitat of the native Gwich'in people, 90 percent of whom are Episcopalians."

In addition, Barry Lopez puts forth a compelling argument for nature reserves for those, unlike the Gwich'in, who do not feel directly connected to remote wild treasures:

An argument for wilderness that reaches beyond the valid concerns of multiple-use--recreation, flood control, providing a source of pure water--is that wild lands preserve complex biological relationships that we are only dimly, or sometimes, not at all, aware of....An argument for wilderness that goes deeper still is that we have an ethical obligation to provide animals with a place where they are free from the impingements of civilization. And, further, an historical responsibility to preserve the kind of landscapes from which modern man emerged. (Crossing Open Ground 1989, 80-1)

This progression suggests three different forms of survival: physical, ecological, and cultural/historical. As Lopez argues, we need outer expanses where we only visit in order to spiritually comprehend so much of our inner expanses. Read the whole book.

For ANWR, I hope it's not too late. It has been a downer that we do not have a mechanism for flogging our most important issues in the press. Please contact Congress if you have yet to do so.
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