Analysis Paralysis

Now that the elections are over, (and I say that with a sense of relief from all the verbosity), maybe we can give our attention to cleaning up our nesting area, our camp grounds, our Mother Earth. A couple of newsworthy items showed up in the Peoria Journal Star during the heat of the campaign but they were consigned to the back pages of the paper because of the political battles going on.

Most recently, it was reported that the hole in the ozone layer is setting new records for size and duration. For what it's worth, Medicare and Social Security will not help anybody who is not alive to make use of it. Neither will a planet. How near the brink of self-destruction do we need to tiptoe before making money becomes less important than keeping a healthy environment?

But the hole in the protective ozone layer keeps right on growing. Commissions, committees, groups of scientists and world leaders have put their heads together to study the problem, and the result is always the same­­ the hole keeps getting bigger.

Civilized people keep waiting confidently for technology to solve the problem which technology has caused. The attitude seems to be, "Don't worry, somebody's working on it." Well, some task force might be doing just that, but with the hole continuing to grow to record proportions, the solution does not seem to be at hand.

In another back page Peoria Journal Star story dated October 21st, "Biologists are getting jumpy over the discovery of a five-legged frog in eastern Missouri, saying it could mean the state has joined a disturbing environmental trend."

The first report came from Minnesota last year. Since then, ten states have reported the discovery of deformed frogs, as has Quebec. Illinois is on the list, and Iowa is looking into scattered reports. A Missouri herpetologist named Tom Johnson has said, "Amphibians are very good indicators of the health of the environment. This is not a quirk. It's something we need to look at seriously."

The country's biologists met recently in Minnesota to discuss theories on the deformed frogs. At their meeting they were provided with coffee, donuts, lo-fat bagels, a fruit bowl, packets filled with data, note-pads and pencils. (No smoking please!) A luncheon followed.

Pesticides and heavy metals were looked upon as possible causes of the deformities. And, according to Johnson, earlier tests on some pesticides and other chemicals indicate that they do interfere with the development of an embryo, causing deformities and sexual dysfunction in the fetus. "What happens in animals could happen in humans," he said.

But don't worry. The Environmental Protection Agency is planning its own study. At their meetings, participants will be provided with more coffee, donuts, lo-fat bagels, a fruit bowl, packets and note-pads with pencils. More analysis paralysis.

Maybe what civilized, techno-driven Americans need to do is change their values, their way of viewing things in terms of profit and gluttonous accumulation, their infatuation with "instant" and "comfort." This was a pretty nice place to live when they barged in helter-skelter. As chief Luther Standing Bear, a Lakota, has written, "The Indian was a natural conservationist. He destroyed nothing, great or small. Destruction was not a part of Indian thought and action; if it had been, and had the man been the ruthless savage he has been accredited with being, he would have long ago preceded the European in the labor of destroying the natural life of this continent. The Indian was frugal in the midst of plenty. When the buffalo roamed the plains in multitudes, he slaughtered only what he could eat and these he used to the hair and bones.

"I know of no species of plant, bird or animal that were exterminated until the coming of the white man." The spiritual void in America is most telling when we see how civilization is raping Mother Earth and the life she supports. A planet made unfit for frogs and hogs is rapidly becoming unfit for humans.

Analysis paralysis may well prove to be the incurable disease of modern civilization. More coffee, more donuts, more lo-fat bagels, more packeŠ.

This article posted to Zephyr online November 14, 1996
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