Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Jersey Environmental Federation

Miners die for our sins. That they get paid reasonably well to do this does not disconnect us from our responsibility to them. Miners' lives are cheap, so coal can remain cheap. Cheap as in dollars. Cheap as in life.

We mostly lead cheap lives. If we thought about what we do moment to moment, thought about the consequences to our neighbors, to our babies, to our babies' babies, most of us would stop. The few that wouldn't would go to jail.

Most of us don't think. Most of us. Yesterday I got to meet a hive of activists who know a bit about water and they think about what they know. Even more important, they do something vastly more useful than wringing their hands. They ring doorbells instead.


Yesterday I got to talk to a group of aware young adults, canvassers for the New Jersey Environmental Federation--Clean Water Action. I talked to them about clamming, which is dependent on decent water, and while clamming is one of my passions, it's not something most 20somethings spend a lot of time contemplating, but they were polite, and nobody fell asleep.

They work for us and the Earth. They are passionate, knowledgeable, and obviously happy to do the work they do. They do important work, work that matters, and they do it well.

They are not Pollyannas. They make connections. They can see where current cultural practices will lead us. And despite this, they seem, well, happy.

If someone who know a bit about water rings your doorbell, listen to them. Handing them a check for their work keeps them employed, but if you really want to see them glow, listen to what they have to say. They're passionate and knowledgeable, and they believe they can change the world.

And if we pay attention, they will.

Yep, my son is in the picture.


Anonymous said...

Granted I'm in favor of of aggressively increasing nuclear, wind, geothermal, hydro, and solar power, whenever these miners are killed I always wonder...

do we not care about our own citizens?

can miners not be trained to do jobs in other power sectors?

doyle said...

We use coal because it is cheap. We use coal because it is abundant. We use coal because it is regionally available.

Every time we play with electronic words, we use coal (or some other source of concentrated, useful energy).

Miners are people, who, like many of us, live in the area where they grew up, where they have family, where they have history.

If the government elects to build a nuclear plant in, say, Georgia, there are plenty of people there who will gladly take the jobs.

Every miner's family has a story. Most of us do not move just to get a job unless we are forced to.

We might start helping our fellow citizens by insisting that the mines be a bit safer--this is doable, but expensive. Our energy costs might inch up a bit.

Do you think most Americans would pay an extra $50/month (a completely made up figure) for electricity to guarantee safer working conditions?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. No, I don't think people would be willing to pay more, but I would.

I think there are enough people willing to pay more that both can exist.

Large companies and individuals who want to could pay more for cleaner energy, while small businesses and cheaper (or less rich) individuals could continue to buy dirty energy.

Seems a reasonable solution. Vote with your dollar!