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Action needed by all to help save the planet

An essay by a renowned contemporary Appalachian writer in The Progressive magazine’s December issue mirrors well the concern Americans feel about danger from the Earth-warming trend.
Titled, “Reconstructing our desires,” the essay eloquently and passionately suggests action choices and options available to us all.
They seem particularly apt in this season of reflection upon things fundamental in our lives, and of motivation to bring about change and new beginnings.
The author, Barbara Kingsolver, lives with her family on a farm in southwest Virginia.
“The world as most people knew it is gone and not coming back,” Kingsolver writes.
She states that she has seen worlds end in her own time — that of segregated schools for one, or of farmsteads that relied on DDT.
Now, other endings are unfolding.
“Temperatures nudging upward, coral reefs whiting out, forests rising in flames, glacier-fed rivers dying in their beds. Living systems failing,” she writes.
Kingsolver traces a path from the system that built segregated schools to our industrial world today.
In that earlier system, the human craving for power used the coerced labor of 20 people, or 1,000, in building pyramids or growing cotton, for example.
The morality of slavery eventually fell in doubt, however, especially as “a new, ethically neutral choice for power enhancement” came along.
We figured out how to burn concentrated carbon, and, “astride a combustion engine” could travel hundreds or thousands of miles in a day and “build pyramids sky-high, romancing the fossil fuel.”
Human ingenuity in use of this power source profoundly changed our lives, enriching us with amenities undreamt of before.
Yet, “darned if we aren’t caught out again,” says Kingsolver.
Although we furiously deny it, “burning the world has consequences,” and slowly the truth dawns about these.
Pushing the “on” button on our entertainment and other appliances, driving cars, buying food — such ordinary acts no longer are morally neu-tral enterprises. They inflict a heavy pain, “by increments on the seas and forests, the people in flood plains and drought-stricken farmlands.”
They diminish the hopes of our children of living on an earthly home as rich as ours has been.
Fortunately, opportunities for energy-frugal living are plentiful, Kingsolver reminds us.
To power down in the things hurtful to the planet is “the honorable choice.”
Decisions like getting out the clothespins, planting a garden and growing food, repairing old things, walking instead of driving or taking airplane jaunts put the choice into practice.
Finding contentment in a hometown and “reconstructing our desires to fit a place, not the other way around” is the “new power option we have,” and need.
It takes reminding that the upheaval which eventually ended slavery was not led by the people who owned the enslaved.
Just so, the “muscular frugality” changes ahead, to ensure preservation of the planet’s living systems, will come through the personal act, based on “moral zeal that grows only inside the human heart.”
Powering down, not relentlessly up — a Christmas present to the planet and its children all!