The Environmental Movement is failing. Through analysis of environmental news, issues, campaigns, organizations, coalitions and events, this blog critically examines the Environmental Movement and, in particular, the Environmental Establishment which dominates the Movement. In this way I seek to create a conversation and ultimately a shared vision of the change we need in the Movement - and in the Establishment - to reverse the decline of the Earth and its habitats.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Celebrating Earth Defender Kathleen Dean Moore

It is always good to discover another Earth Defender. I discovered Kathleen Dean Moore and her work through her essay The view from 31,000 feet: A philosopher looks at fracking in the May 11th edition of High Country News. Here's an excerpt:
          Because we understand that the world’s systems are interconnected, we realize that damage to any part part is damage to the whole. This is the foundation of justice.
          Because we understand the world is interdependent, we acknowledge our reliance on one another and on the life-giving systems of the Earth. This is the foundation of compassion.
          Because we recognize that the Earth is finite, we embrace an ethic of restraint and precaution to replace a destructive ethos of excess. This is the foundation of prudence.
          Because we understand the planet’s systems are resilient, we are called to stop the harm and undo the damage that has been done. This is the foundation of hope.
          Because the Earth is beautiful, we will refuse to tolerate the oil industry’s wars against the Earth. This is the beginning of moral courage.

The US at night showing light from the Bakken Oil Fields
Kathleen Dean Moore has written several books and numerous articles. You can access her writing, read her bio and see if she will be speaking soon in a venue near you on her website.  There is an upcoming talk in Portland on June 25th. 
Here's the link to an interview with Moore published in The Sun magazine. Read it to learn about "the right to ice"! And from the interview, here's Moore's explanation of why she is a "ferocious grandmother":
          I agree with what my book’s coeditor, Michael P. Nelson, says about getting older. He doesn’t want to hear anymore about retirees being entitled to year-round perfect weather, an annual trip to Las Vegas, low taxes, easy Sunday crosswords, and reduced greens fees. Retired people often feel that, since they’ve worked all their lives, the world owes them a rest. That’s outrageous. Old age is precisely when we need to pay the world back. Yes, we have worked hard, but our successes depended on a stable climate, temperate weather, abundant food, cheap fuel, and a sturdy government — all advantages that our children and grandchildren will not have if we don’t act.
          We elders are at the peak of our ability to help. We have a wealth of experience. Many of us have sufficient income. And we have that huge commodity: time. Most of all we have a ferocious love for our grandchildren. Wouldn’t that love make us want to leave them the legacy of a beautiful world? To turn away from that into a kind of grouchy selfishness strikes me as tragic.
          If your granddaughter has asthma because there is dust in the air, get out in the street and demand clean air. If your grandson is not learning well because there are toxins in the water, you should be at the city-council meeting. Their parents are busy making a home for these children, but you have the time and the ability to make a difference in their future. To love someone is to have a sacred obligation to protect them. 

In the interview Kathleen Dean Moore is asked to define what she means when she calls herself a "sacred secularist". Here's her response:
           It means that I believe the world is extraordinary and mysterious, beautiful beyond human imagining and grand beyond human measure, worthy of reverence and awe. The word we have for something like that is sacred. You don’t have to believe in God to know that when you go out the door in the morning, you walk on sacred ground. A friend from New Zealand who had never seen a rufous hummingbird once said to me, “That’s the kind of creature that makes you believe in God.” And I said, “Or that’s the kind of creature that makes you believe we can’t let this world slip away.” If God doesn’t have his eye on the sparrow, somebody else had better, and that somebody is us. 

Amen to that! 
As part of The Spring Creek Project at Oregon State University ("a sort of think tank that brings together people with different backgrounds to reimagine our place in the world"), Kathleen Dean Moore joined with other thinkers and activists to create The Blue River Declaration: An Ethic of the Earth. Here's the introduction:    
           A truly adaptive civilization will align its ethics with the ways of the Earth. A civilization that ignores the deep constraints of its world will find itself in exactly the situation we face now, on the threshold of making the planet inhospitable to humankind and other species. The questions of our time are thus: What is our best current understanding of the nature of the world? What does that understanding tell us about how we might create a concordance between ecological and moral principles, and thus imagine an ethic that is of, rather than against, the Earth?  

Read the entire Blue River Declaration: An Ethic of the Earth at this link

Justice, compassion, prudence, hope and moral courage are the qualities Moore champions in her High Country News essay and in all her work. It strikes me that these are precisely the qualities, the virtues, we need to practice in order to fix the world. And as Moore puts it "We can find the ongoing strength to do this work if we keep in mind that it is powered by love." 

Thank you Kathleen Dean Moore for the insight and inspiration you provide. Onward!