Monday, July 13, 2009

The Environment, Religion and Bicycling

The state of the earth, the environment, is governed by how we humans live. We use resources to live, and leave behind the leftovers. We as a global society have a choice -- we can "use it until its gone" and leave behind poisonous waste, or we can only use resources at the rate they're naturally replenished and choose not to leave a lot of crap behind.

It's not unlike religion and Christian morals. You can live morally and do the things God wants you to do, and God is nice enough to bless your life for it, on an individual level. And it can work on a societal level, too, in Old Testament times God made the lives of "his people" good when they were good and bad when they were bad. People as a group have a choice -- live "righteously" and be blessed, in this life and the next, or be wicked and forgo the benefits.
The environment and religion have these characteristics in common.

They're similar in other ways, too. This life is my heaven. Everything makes or breaks on this earth, and my part of it is strictly in this life. The place isn't really all that bad, and we can make it a much better earth and better society for us -- "heaven" is something we can make right here. The afterlife would be my generation's grandchildren, great grandchildren. Our actions in this life determine what sort of and earth they'll live in. A heaven, a hell, or something in between?

Given the importance of having a good planet to live on, and having a moral sense that it's a good idea to turn things over to the next generation in good condition, I take a personal interest in doing what I can to reduce the environmental impacts of my lifestyles. But, like Old Testamenty religion, it can't just be me making "correct" choices, it has to be most everyone, or the planet will still go kaput. So believing that environmental issues are important and action must be taken collectively leads to an evangelical approach. You can see this all across the environmental movement.

And bicycles? Bicycles are a classic example of the type of change we need to see to create a heaven here on earth for our grandchildren. Bicycles as transportation solve about 10 environmental problems in a single choice. By replacing car trips with bike trips, we take massive blows at the problems of
* oil consumption,
* air pollution,
* noise pollution,
* global warming,
* planet-paving,
* wealth concentration in distant manufacturing,
* death by traffic for people and other critters,
* social isolation,
* traffic congestion,
* idleness and obesity, and
* nature deprivation.
And at the same time we can have good clean fun. Not only are you working toward solving these enormous thorny problems, but you're feeling like you're flying across town and have endorphins pumping through your body. It's just the sort of "solution" that we need to be lauding from the rooftops and supporting on the ground.

This is why I believe in bicycles. I believe that bicycles, and similar simple changes to societies lifestyles can lead us into a prosperous heaven on earth that will last for all generations to come.

It takes a lot of work to get there, but cities/societies like Portland are showing how this can be done -- how huge numbers of ordinary Americans can take to two wheels, happily go about their lives while steering our planet away from a doomed future.

Yours in The Faith,
Pasture Ted

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