Friday, July 17, 2015

Our Shared Environment

I am sure I have written about this idea previously: What we do to the environment of the Earth, locally or globally, is directly involved with how we relate to other people. How can we say we love our human brothers and sisters if we pollute the environment we share with them? Love your neighbor—and it is your neighbor’s Earth.

A particularly amazing example of the disregard that some people have for their neighbors, and their neighbors’ environment, has come to my attention in rural Oklahoma, where I live. When I first heard about it, I could hardly believe it, until it was corroborated by a second person. Both of these people, who do not know one another, grew up in and still live in rural Oklahoma. I still find it hard to believe, but I will pass the story on to you.

One way that some rural residents of Oklahoma have of getting rid of their garbage is to put it in the flatbed of a pickup truck and drive around until the wind blows it away. This does not work for heavy objects like beer bottles—those are more efficiently disposed of by throwing them out the window—but it works very well for paper and plastic. There are two reasons for this. First, Oklahoma has a lot of wind. Second, the air pressure is greater down in the pickup bed than in the moving air (moving, that is, relative to the pickup bed) above the pickup bed, virtually guaranteeing that the light garbage will be lifted out and blown away.

People who do this sort of thing might as well have a bumper sticker on the truck proclaiming, “This is what I think of you, you worthless miserable fellow Americans—I will dump my garbage on you.” Of course, they do not want to actually say this, so they pretend that, oh-oh, the wind just happened to lift the garbage out of my truck, oh well. Maybe they are even salving their own consciences by pretending that they are not really dumping their garbage when they do this.

As I said, I would not have believed this story had it not been told to me by two people who do not know one another or live in the same town.

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