PROGRESS HAS A NEW MEANING

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

What was once progress is not the progress we need

PROGRESS HAS A NEW MEANING

By John Ross Hart

 

Back in the day, when I was a radio disc jockey, there was a public service announcement (what we called a PSA) from the American Lung Association that questioned progress.A deep voice sang:"Progress, can't stop progress!"A meeker voice continually questioned him."But in the process...what about the air, the water, a legacy of lung disease?"

This was 1973.No one was concerned about climate change, at least not yet.But we were concerned about increased air pollution from cars, factories, and power plants.Effluent and chemical waste was polluting our rivers and streams.Garbage and other expenditures were finding their way to our oceans.

Lung diseases were increasing, especially amongst our most vulnerable, the children, the elderly, the poor.Recreation in rivers and lakes were a health risk.There were so many chemicals in Cleveland's Cuyahoga River that it actually caught on fire.People who ate fish and seafood on a regular basis were becoming ill.Many had traces of Mercury which had been absorbed by the fish.

That should have been a time to sound the alarm, and many people did.For the average worker, the nuclear family, plants, animals, our future, and the earth as a whole, this issue was a no-brainer.

So, what happened?Why is our earth much worse off today than it was in 1973?  Now our climate is affected.Summers are hotter.  Winters are colder.Storms have increased in number and intensity.More children have asthma and other lung diseases than any other generation in history.Lung cancer rates have increased, and not necessarily from smoking.It's getting worse.What happened?

That deep voice represents big business, the mills, the factories, the coal plants, the oil companies, representing billions of dollars of annual profits and dividends to their stockholders.The objective is to make money, then find ways to make more money.This has been the way of business since the time of the caveman.

"If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door."The Industrial Revolution was the greatest boon to business.New inventions accelerated industrialization from one product per day to one product per minute.Companies were raking in the money with each new innovation.

What the industrialists overlooked was the effects of their big machines.They were difficult to operate, there was no ventilation of air and toxins, many facilities were fire hazards.People were expendable.Even children worked.All to maximize profits.

Which brings us back to 1973.It was business as usual for U.S. Steel, Standard Oil, Ford Motor Company, Georgia Pacific, Appalachian coal mines, and other major corporations.Of course they didn't want to change.To keep the status quo, they sent lobbyists to capitals far and wide, offering "favors" to politicians in exchange for legislation that would not only allow them to continue doing what they had done all along, but to expand their activities further.

During the 1970's, American automakers tried to stall on building smaller cars, alternative-powered cars, even adding seat belts.The gas shortage of 1973-74 should have sent a message to Ford, GM, and Chrysler.  Instead, they were found to be unprepared.  Demand for change brought products from Japan, Germany, and other nations.

We were told the world was running out of oil.It was time to find alternative forms of energy before the wells ran dry. lnstead, Exxon, Shell, Texaco, Chevron, etc., wanted to drill in the oceans, drill on public lands, while keeping political interests on good terms in the Middle East.We've all heard of the "blowouts," leaks, and shipwrecks that have wreaked extensive environmental damage.

There are more cars on the road and plastic is an overused by-product of everyday life.

The lungs of our earth, the rainforests of Africa, Canada, South America, and Southeast Asia are seeing wanton destruction with no replacement.

Since the late-1970's, Corporate America and the Republican Party have forged together as brothers-in-arms.Increasingly, The GOP has rejected environmental legislation.The growth of the New Conservatism has shown no sympathy for the environment.Radio "Talking Heads" such as Rush Limbaugh claim there is no climate change.Donald Trump has long called it a hoax and his actions as President has done irreparable damage.

Conservatives don't like scientists as has also been proven in the COVID 19 crisis.

But the fact remains.Progress in its current description is killing the earth and life as we've known it.Progress is not climate change, polluted air and water, trash in the oceans, and a less-healthy population, all in the name of increased profits.

Progress in the 21st Century is a change of our ways.Wind and solar energy is renewable.We are still going to run out of oil and coal.We are also going to run out of trees, unless we replace them.At this point, we need three replacements for every tree cut.Factories need to find alternative forms of energy and turn off their smokestacks.Alternative transportation such as rail and cars powered by electricity or natural gas should be the wave of the future.Less plastic and more recycling should be policy everywhere.

In other words, progress is not building things and making as much money as the market will bear.That's the old way.It's out of date.

The new way is recycling, using renewable resources, following a path of less destruction and having more appreciation of our underused resources.

There is money to be made here.Really?

We, the people of planet Earth, know this is the progress that can't be stopped.

For our sake!

###

 


Submitted: October 20, 2020

© Copyright 2020 John Ross Hart. All rights reserved.

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Back in Black

At this point alternative energy just can't power our cities. Thus the rolling blackouts in California. As far as progress for money...the push for renewable energy is also a push for money. For the first time..under Trump, we are energy independent. Yes we should have started on this way back ..and blaming Republicans for that is a weak argument. All of us are to blame. But changing our energy consumption must be slow and sure ...trying to force people into it, like Democrats want to do will fail and even endanger national security.

Wed, October 21st, 2020 11:23am

Back in Black

At this point alternative energy just can't power our cities. Thus the rolling blackouts in California. As far as progress for money...the push for renewable energy is also a push for money. For the first time..under Trump, we are energy independent. Yes we should have started on this way back ..and blaming Republicans for that is a weak argument. All of us are to blame. But changing our energy consumption must be slow and sure ...trying to force people into it, like Democrats want to do will fail and even endanger national security.

Wed, October 21st, 2020 11:23am

LE. Berry

Completely agree...not wanting to change because it is 'inconvenient' is the still the truth of the majority...well written piece John.

Thu, October 22nd, 2020 8:15pm

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