Our environmental problems will likely persist unless our mindsets change and unless there is a shift in the way many of us earn a living. We are free to do as we please until our actions deprive someone else of their freedom, which is why you canít blow smoke in someoneís face. In fact, since treatment of emphysema and lung cancer are so costly, even smoking in isolation is wrong because it stresses the health care system, possibly depriving someone of treatment from a disease or injury that is not self-induced. If we contribute to global warming or overpopulate or place toxins in consumer products, we infringe upon the freedom of others to live in a stable world. If we do not recognize that our personal freedom is part of an ecological web of other rights and freedoms, there can never be a widespread and sustained environmental movement.


Of course some semblance of passion for things beyond sex, money and gadgets would not hurt the environment either. I heard of an enlightened golf course owner in the Montreal area who refused to take advantage of the ludicrous herbicide-pesticide exemption enjoyed by his peers and equipped his workers with weed removal tools. For most people with lawns, the ban on chemical weed killers is a nuisance. Some dutifully pull out weeds, cursing the chore, while others just let them run rampant. But if they had some interest in biology, they would notice how the lawnmower acts as a selective force, allowing those plants with the ability to create shorter flowers to dominate. People would use the weed-removing deed as an opportunity to get their knees dirty and get a little closer to the nature in their own backyards. Some of the non-grass species like clover are actually beneficial to the grass; they fix nitrogen, lowering the need for artificial fertilizer. Occasionally, beautiful wild pansies settle in among the grass. But of course those wonders do not materialize if one lets dandelions, ragweed, and crab grass dominate.


In general, it is shocking how an educated population is so out of touch with the cycles of the moon and with the types of trees growing in their urban areas, let alone those existing in protected areas beyond their cities. Many of these otherwise intelligent people spend their working lives pushing paper for the bureaucracies that plague modern life. Hopefully some day, for the sake of their own mental and physical health they will be working outside of their cubicles plucking weeds, analyzing soils, seeking ways of degrading plastics without toxic solvents and working on ways of generating energy in a sophisticated and innocuous manner like the photosystems of plants.And for the sake of other species, our infantile technological society will mature and stop generating energy by setting fire to relics of the past.