to Henry Beston's literary classic, The Outermost House,
and the spirit of life on the Great Outer Beach of Cape
pardon the imposition
Filed June 3, 2002
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
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
"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.