Grandma wasn’t a socialist.
“Remember,” she instructed little sister Rose in the biffy one day, “Use only one square for #1; two squares for #2.”
You may smile at such extreme frugality, but Grandma was widowed in the fall of 1924 and went into the Great Depression with six children to feed and clothe. She had to pinch pennies every way she could; she knew the government wasn’t going to pay her bills.
She likely got some relief – many people did – but she knew their survival boiled down to how much of each thing they consumed. She didn’t expect the govt to feed them, or fix the stock market crash that threw so many people out of work. Thankfully the govt has enacted some checks to try and prevent a recurrence of that disastrous week in October 1929.
Grandma didn’t look to the government to fix the climate. It was what it was; folks knew only an act of God could bring the rains again. Since then mortals have tried meddling with the clouds, often to their hurt. People have since wised up some about land management and farming methods are much improved.
The thoughts I’m sharing here were inspired by Martha Kennedy’s blog post: “Save the World 1965.” I’m not considering global climate change, which is more-or-less a political movement. I’m simply considering pollution, irresponsible land and air management. I believe consumer choices–our choices–do impact pollution.
Reading the accounts Martha has posted, I’m amazed at how much has changed in my own lifetime. Recycling never existed–except for liquor and pop bottles. My siblings and I collected them from roadsides and sold them to the town café. Those nickels were precious back in the day! Plastics, just appearing, were welcomed as the saviour of perishable stored food. Since then we’ve counted the cost; now we’re back to paper or reusable grocery bags, wooden spoons and paper drinking straws.
Rivers, once floating sewers and chemical cocktails, have been cleaned up. There’s less paper production, so no more mercury poisoning. I’ve heard the Thames is much improved and London no longer has its pea soup fog. Chemical companies are much more accountable–at least in our country.
Internationally not so much, sadly. And where most of our goods are coming from? Can we have our cake and eat it, too? No pollution here but tons of cheap goods from third-world countries? And we need lots of fuel for travel–or heating and air conditioning for huge buildings with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. You didn’t see those a century ago. The govt could ration fuel, limit air travel, order all those fuel-gobbling cruise ships docked. (COVID did a lot of this for us, remember?) But travelers would complain, employees would lament lost jobs. In any legal restriction there are hidden costs. Rationing tends to create black markets.
One of Martha’s articles mentions population. There are too many of us! Or we consume too much? However, family size has dropped drastically since I was young. My Dad was one of ten; my parents had six. Abortions are terminating millions of possible citizens–sad to say. Speaking of hidden costs, China tried limiting their population by law and it appears their plan had some, though a lot of foreign couples have adopted girls from China, spreading some of their numbers around the globe.
My Dad, somewhat of a cynic, said, “The world has a way of regulating population. When there are too many people, another war or plague will come along.” Well, most of us pray there will never be another international conflict! And when COVID came to threaten us, we fought it tooth and nail. Or mask and sanitizers. And we’re doing better (too well?) at keeping people alive. People like me, who would have died without the amazing modern medical treatments. Seems we’re not very keen to die to make more room on the planet.
Yes, more land and air cleanup can be done. I do wonder, though: has our society become too socialist-minded? As in expecting the govt to fix the problems for us? Would our world be better off if each person/family felt more responsible for their own consumption? Our leaders may make speeches and promises, but they know they have no control over what happens in other lands. Consumer dollars actually do.