Published on
the Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Remember Miners on Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day. You know what that means: Tree huggers everywhere will preach about the planet and how they’re going to “save it.”

It’s laughable really. Here we are 40 years of Earth Days later and they haven’t ended environmental degradation or grown any closer to staving off human annihilation.

Last week, President Barack Obama explained at the Nuclear Security Summit how “ironic” it is that we face mass destruction at the hands — not of warring governments — but of renegade terrorists.

Mr. President, that’s not irony, that’s predictability. No weapon ever has been invented that didn’t end up in the hands of people outside the military. Drug dealers have automatic weapons even though they themselves can’t build them.

When all those wacky peaceniks clamored decades ago for nuclear disarmament, they actually were visionary. In reality, this “weapons of mass destruction” threat makes perfect sense now that we have worldwide stockpiles of nukes so enormous that there’s no way of knowing for sure if any are missing.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Before its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union had more than 27,000 nuclear weapons and enough weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to triple that number. Since, severe economic distress, rampant crime, and widespread corruption in Russia and other former Soviet countries have fed concerns in the West about loose nukes, underpaid nuclear scientists, and the smuggling of nuclear materials. Security at Russia’s nuclear storage sites remains worrisome.”

Worrisome: That’s a gargantuan understatement.

And we have no information on where the United States’ or India’s or any other nuke power’s poorly guarded armaments may be because our governments haven’t dissolved like the Soviets; at least not yet.

So we’re unsurprisingly vulnerable to colossal malicious calamity, and the hippies with their Earth- worshipping holiday haven’t changed that. Neither have they saved us from environmental hazards.

Earth Day celebrations began in 1970; the same year that the Hyden, Ky., coal mining disaster claimed 38 lives. Since then, all the do-gooder demands for renewable resources have done nothing to allay our insatiable appetite for dangerous and costly fossil fuels. And a few weeks ago, Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia blew itself to kingdom come.

Let’s see, biggest coal mining disaster since 1970 and the Earth Day environmental movement began in 1970: again not much to show for 40 years. But, as a tree hugging hippie freak I can explain our powerlessness.

First problem, we waste too much time hugging trees. I bet you thought tree-hugger was some euphemism invented to diminish the role and reputation of earnest individuals who care passionately about the planet that sustains us. That’s only part of it; many of these folks actually hug trees. Imagine spending an hour or a day or a week communing with nature and giving living but certainly not human creatures time and affection. Admit it, the reason so many folks don’t respect environmentalists is because of their predilection for thinking that nonhumans — like spotted owls or the furbish lousewort — should be treated like humans.

If that’s worthy of ridicule then so is the Supreme Court of the United States — which shall henceforth be referred to as corporation-huggers.

That’s right; the corporation-huggers — in far too many rulings to cite here — insist that corporations are people with our inalienable rights. And those rights include the protections of the 14th Amendment, which were intended to fully emancipate people who had been slaves but now allows corporations to enslave workers and consumers alike.

The right to due process is one of the reasons that Massey Energy had been able to ignore numerous citations for dangerously high methane levels at the Upper Big Branch, which many believe led to the explosion. And similar to a tree, these protected corporations can’t be arrested and incarcerated even if investigators determine that their corporate policy of appealing these citations without complying is what killed those miners.

Our country’s in trouble because the peacenik tree-huggers are ignored and the corporation-huggers are in charge. Let’s push back. Tomorrow, for Earth Day, don’t use any electricity. And when you eat something cold or sit in the dark think of those dead miners and conserve the energy they purchased with their lives.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is an author, activist and advocate. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States."  Her new novel, The Magic Diary, is due out in late spring.

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