I became an adult during the 60's, a period of time when young people believed we could
save the world through our personal actions. The idealism of that time caused young people
to volunteer for the Peace Corps, to help with voter registration in Mississippi, to march
on Chicago, and to protest at Kent State. There were lots of unpolitical actions as well,
such as using a "Save a Tree" bag at the grocery, growing an organic garden, and
using a bike instead of driving a car.
I don't know what happened to that idealism. Was it Kent State, the fall of South
Vietnam, the resignation of Richard Nixon, the new yuppie generation, the government's
involvement in these causes, or just the struggle to find a job in a failing economy?
Whatever happened, the idea of personal responsibility has been lost. Instead of trying
to conserve, we have doubled the size of our homes, installed air conditioning in every
house and car, and nearly doubled the amount of driving per car, with more cars per
family. We have even started using big gas-guzzlers again.
The Bible says, "If you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind," and
that's exactly what has been happening to us environmentally. Song birds, forests, large
animal species, wetlands, and even fish have been disappearing. In addition, we have
experienced record droughts and fires, heat-waves and storms, and rains and floods.
For a while, global warming was laughed at as a myth or hoax. But more and more
evidence has been coming in. Scientists have now documented the melting of the polar ice
caps. This is a poor time to buy land in Florida.
Some people feel we should wait for a big government solution. They forget that the
government does nothing unless it is forced to act. Global warming doesn't require big
solutions anyway. Each person can make a difference. How? Take a bike to work instead of
the car, live in a smaller house, use fans and fluorescent lights, and keep the house
cooler in the winter. New possibilities now exist. Solar panels can free us from the power
line, and the internet can free us from the cubical at work.
I know these changes will not take us back to the stone age because I have been living
a different lifestyle all along. I have a better quality of life because I pay less
attention to being comfortable and more to enjoying the adventure of life.
It all comes down to this: we can keep up with the Jonses and watch our planet die, or
we can find new ways of being happy.
I think a bike is an important part of the change. Why? First, it frees us partially or
completely from the gas-guzzler. Second, it greatly improve our physical and mental
health. Third, it gives us healthy fun at little cost.