April 20 was Earth Fair Day at San Diego’s Balboa Park. This is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world. Aside from the polluting gas powered generators stinking up the place, aside from the miles of congestion and grid-lock in and around the Balboa Park area during the event, aside from the tons of trash left all over the park and parking lot and surrounding area, aside from the wall to wall bodies everywhere, Balboa Park was the place to go this weekend to use massive amounts of energy and generate tons of trash and pollution to show hundreds of energy-saving, green products.
The industrializing world (1850 – ) assumed energy to be (in the language of classical economics) an “external event.” That is, energy was never including in economic calculations, beyond raw cost. Energy was assumed to be cheap, bountiful, and unrelated to global well-being.
We are now awakening to the reality that energy IS the economic equation. Energy is THE reason our population rose from 1B to 6B in 100 years. Cheap, abundant energy sustains (disproportionately) this massive influx of people and industrialization, because it is cheap and abundant. Or was.
Nature shows that virtually any biological system (bacteria, etc.) given access to unlimited energy and environmental resources will find a way to consume such energy – and continue to multiply. Humanity seems no different. Until energy is no longer cheap & abundant, we will consume it and multiply. The Earth Day trashing of Balboa Park is yet another indicator that no matter how much we talk about “doing good” – we screw things up.
A wise man once said: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. As Gandhi exemplified, may we (as individuals) become the change we long for on this planet. Nothing will change “out there.” All change starts right here, right now, within.