So how does it happen? That's of course the big concern. Seldom if ever is someone given a situation in life where there's a clearcut threat to humanity's existence which they can specifically thwart: we're talking maybe high office-holders during the cold war, if that. But the idea of being responsible for the wellbeing of the race is still fairly prevalent with people--they just work at it in a smaller context, adding up tiny percentages to get anywhere. But without a clear Armageddon on the way, what do you *do*? Well, at times people have focused on different ideas for spending their efforts.
In the sixties, for instance, The Man was beating people down. The Authorities gave us bloody and useless wars, took away our civil rights and pot, and had The Bomb. Standing up and protesting was the way to go. The great good, the way you knew you were doing your part, was to be a martyr to the cause--beaten down, or arrested, or even to drive home a symbolic point (by, say, putting a flower in a gun). Love could save us all.
The eighties, on the other hand, were all about environmentalism. People were just starting to come to terms with the fact that the planet wouldn't stay clean unless people picked up after themselves. Everyone was familiar with the book "50 Simple Things YOU Can Do to Save the Earth," and the point was further driven home by Captain Planet and the Planeteers. People did their share, but the major emphasis was on making big business literally clean up their act--because they did so very much of the actual polluting.
This kind of leads us to what brought the subject up in my mind. Georgia, where I currently live, is undergoing a severe drought. Record-breaking. And how it's being handled is...interesting, to say the least.
The first I heard about it was the hosepipe ban. Then things got more severe, and there's a major movement everywhere for people to conserve water. And not just in cutting random water loss--we're not talking just making sure taps aren't dripping and everything. No, people are being encouraged to stop the shower while they're applying soap. "If it's yellow, let it mellow" was an enforced rule at a football game. A girl who wrote in to the school paper about how she thought the rules were getting ridiculous and she just flushed when she wanted to was smacked down as being selfish and shortsighted.
How does this relate to the above? Well, the hosepipe ban is *it* as far as legal matters related to water use. For instance, the car wash I live near is still running exactly as it always has. It's just private lives that are disrupted, apparently (admittedly, many restaurants are switching to disposable plates to save dishwater, etc, but it's out of the goodness of their own hearts).
The thing is, even these increments people do--turning off the faucet while brushing their teeth, using only one glass a day for drinking--simply amount to a rounding error against the Big Users. Like when an accident involves rupturing a water main and spilling 1.5 million gallons--that's a lot of flushes. Or maybe requiring the paper mills to come up with a way of reducing water use by even a few percentage points. But no, the responsibility lies in the private sector. It's our responsibility--to the point where flushing a toilet unnecessarily is a sin. Somehow the idea of pitching in and doing your share has become everything...how? Why?