Sunday, July 2, 2017

Water we going to do about it?

A few weeks ago I had a birthday. No, we're no going into which one it was. One of my presents was a book I wish every Minnesotan would read, especially those who care about the environment, children, and the future, and support Governor Dayton's water quality improvement initiative 25 BY '25.
Governor Dayton’s proposal would not add new regulations, but would instead drive public engagement and partnerships to address Minnesota’s water quality challenges
Trout Lake, northern Minnesota
Trout Lake, northern Minnesota
Photo by J. Harrington

The book's title is Water Is... It has its own web site and blog. I haven't finished reading it yet. In fact, I've only recently started, but this morning I read a quotation that I want to share.
"Water is a public trust,"47 says Maude Barlow, Senior Advisor on Water Issues to the President of the United Nations. "No one owns water; rather it belongs to the earth and all species alike ... because it is a flow resource necessary for life and ecosystem health, and because there is no substitute for it, water must be regarded as a public Commons and a public good and preserved as such for all time in law and practice."47
Minnesota has despoiled about half of its waters, to the point that many aren't fit to wade or swim in safely. Cities and manufacturing have accepted obligations to clean up much of their pollution before discharging their used waters back into our common supply. Long ago, agriculture lobbied for and received an exemption from such requirements. If that status continues, we'll continue to support cheap food at the cost of clean water. Go look up how long people can live without food compared to how long we can survive without water. Then tell me the way we're managing our commons makes sense.

Sunrise River, Wild River State Park
Sunrise River, Wild River State Park
Photo by J. Harrington

As if the current situation weren't worrisome enough, we persist in electing some who believe that the future will be better if only environmental regulations are loosened or eliminated. Those who vote for such candidates must forget there are no jobs on  dead planet.

As we enjoy some belated beautiful Summer weather this holiday weekend, we might want to think about freedom to, as well as freedom from. If we don't do a better job with our freedoms to be responsible, our freedoms from rules become watered down. Legislation is a poor substitute for morality.

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

"Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright ® 1973 by Wendell Berry

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