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Dedicated to Henry Beston's literary classic, The Outermost House, and the spirit of life on the Great Outer Beach of Cape Cod

Please pardon the imposition

BY DON WILDING
Filed June 3, 2002

Henry Beston never held elected office, but he certainly had more sense than anyone in elected office, past or present, particularly in the pages of his 1948 book Northern Farm.

"However various may be the tasks which man is given to attend to upon this earth, his major occupation is a concern with life," Beston wrote. "To accomplish this duty, he must honor life, even if he honors it but blindly, knowing that life has a sacredness and mystery which no destruction of the poetic spirit can diminish."

Oh, wait ... there's more.

"The curtain has just rung down on a great show and carnival of death and the air is still poisoned and we are poisoned," Beston continued. "Our strength and intelligence have been used to counter the very will and purpose of the earth. We had better begin considering not what our governments want but what the earth imposes."

So, with all of that said, what does the Bush administration go and do? Well, on June 3, the powers in Washington acknowledged for the first time in a new report that there will be quite a significant increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades, due mostly to human activities. How significant? How does 43 percent strike you?

On May 31, the Bush administration sent that report to the United Nations. At the same time, 15 other nations were busy ratifying the Kyoto Pact, the only agreement for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases -- you know -- carbon dioxide ... soot ... the list goes on and on. The U.S., the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, passed on the pact. Why? It's because President Bush felt that cutting down on those emissions would be too costly for the U.S. economy. This is the U.S. we're talking about -- the world's largest bank vault of financial wealth.

Now, Bush, who has spent his 18 months in office bashing the possibility of global warming and human activity being linked (Dubaya and company's original claim was that there wasn't enough scientific evidence), will, no doubt, have to explain to the folks in the U.S. auto, oil and electricity industries why he's taken such a quick turn. The Kyoto Pact won't be a problem, because the president believes that industries will do a more than adequate job of policing themselves. Like the federal deficit, the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution nightmares will once again spiral out of control. All the while, the Bush administration is basically telling us to deal with the changes. How comforting.

Average temperatures in the U.S. are predicted to rise by as much as nine degrees over the next century (because of the Greenhouse Effect), putting many highly-sensitive ecosystems at risk. This includes barrier beaches -- the same kind of beach where Beston wrote his nature classic The Outermost House. Both Cape Cod and New York City could both be placed in great danger of being swallowed by the sea. You may not need to worry about it, but your children and grandchildren will.

The U.S. is slated to send delegates to a global summit in Johannesburg in August, where heads of state from all over the planet -- particularly the European Union -- will be looking for some answers from its offspring across the Atlantic.

"Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth," Beston wrote in the closing sentences of The Outermost House. Somebody needs to tape that up on the wall of the meeting hall in Johannesburg. Goverments want too much, but the earth imposes more. Someone -- make that everyone -- in a position of power needs to come to this realization -- and act on it.

There's no question that the U.S. has many other concerns at the moment -- but as many enemies as the Red, White and Blue has around the globe, there's no worse enemy to have than Nature itself.


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