Friday, January 11, 2013

Have we ruined our world?

Manufactured Landscapes by Edward Burtynsky
I wanted to add this you tube link to a river in Kathmandu.

This morning my 10 year old accused me and the last few generations before me of ruining our world.

"Have we?" I asked.

"Mom, you and your generation and the generations before you are responsible for all of the garbage and global warming... "  He had more to say, but this was the essence.

What have we done?

I asked him to look around him and said, "If I have contributed to the decay of the world then so have you. Look around you.  Everything that you have is made by machines with plastic parts and consumes fossil fuels."  We went hunting around our home for an object completely untouched by modern technology.  I found pottery made by my friend, but the wheel it was turned on was electric and the clay arrived boxed in plastic.  There are few places in the world where everything is entirely industry free.  Perhaps somewhere in the Amazon or high in the mountains of Nepal.  Even though the jewelry we buy is entirely hand built, torches are used to solder the pieces together.

He is right, we are no longer able to live in this modern world without touching objects made by machines and it is ruining the air we breath and the environment that we live in.

Please rent Manufactured Landscapes on Netflix, photo above, It is an astounding film!  It shows the monumental physical damage we have done to our landscape.

Right now in Nepal, Global Warming is causing the glaciers to recede leaving longer dry seasons.  A friend in Nepal just wrote me that they have had no rain for 3 months.  People will die of starvation this year because their crops will not have enough water.  How unfair that people who have barely had access to modern technology will suffer so much for the excesses of the rest of us.

We can not turn back the clock but we can make an effort to change our future.  Technology may have gotten us into this mess, but I think that responsible technology is also our only way out.  Reduce, reuse, recycle, buy natural handmade products, and advocate for the development of clean energy alternatives.  It's not easy in our modern society and it will take a daily commitment make a change.


  1. ((( )))))

    january and it rains here. i don't remember this happening before this last few years.

    the future is upon us and it is not technology per se that has done this to us but we have done it to ourselves with our gluttony and immediacy.

    as you say, daily thoughtful measures, commitment. we need to address what needs really are (for our western society, especially) and start aiming for needs instead of desires. but this calls for a fundamental restructuring of not just our world (as if that were small) but our personal philosophies, our image of self and our place in the world. it starts with the self and goes outward. this is the only way.

    your son is a lucky boy to have such a mother. you are a lucky mother to have such a son.


  2. My sentiments exactly.
    However, Americans quite refuse to be remotely 'green'.
    You have lived outside the US as I have I
    and have a small understanding of ROW as in rest of world.
    Sending love anyway!


  3. Erin I agree, thought, word and deed.

    Elizabeth, we are the ambassadors of ROW. Your pictures are an education just as I try to bear witness to what I have seen.

    Please look at 'Manufactured Landscapes' if you have not already seen it. I think it should be shown in every school in every part of the world.

  4. What I find frustrating is that greed and politics make an already difficult task more so. For example, in Virginia, only a small percentage of your electricity may be supplied by natural resources. If you want electricity then you have to use the big power companies for the majority of it-by law. You are right, though, it takes dedication and a commitment to change on a small level and a belief that that commitment will snowball.

  5. Whitney, this is true. They are preserving the old structures without real planning for the future. In our area you aren't allowed to put solar panels on your roof because it would ruin the look of the neighborhood! I am hoping this will change as they learn how to make panels that look more like normal shingles.

  6. WOW. Your son is wise. He has his finger on the pulse of things. We have missed your voice these past months, Jeri. Your experiences are always mind blowing for the rest of us.