The Bible tells us that on the Sixth Day, God created man, allowing him to live in the lush garden and be steward of the whole Earth. But God’s great mistake on that day was failing to demand a security deposit.

At last, though, humankind seems to grasp the fact that we’re perilously close to environmental catastrophe, and governments around the world are beginning to respond. A green transformation is under way as growing majorities of people demand everything from strict regulation of climate-change pollutants to aggressive development of a new clean-energy economy.

In the past few years, freelance inventors, small companies, co-ops, professors, backyard mechanics, and a few mad scientists have made tremendous strides in the development of alternative fuel technologies. These technologies are already cheaper than fossil fuels when we factor in the tremendous savings they provide in the health and environmental costs we are now paying for oil and coal.

This new energy can create a full-employment economy, including training and work programs for unemployed and low-income folks in our inner cities and rural areas.

For roughly the same price per kilowatt, renewable electricity can be produced by you with solar panels on your roof and wind generators in your community. Instead of building another centralized energy system that puts a handful of Exxons or Exelons in charge, the switch to green gives Americans a rare opportunity to restructure and democratize the energy economy so ownership is localized, financial benefits are broadly shared, and economic power is decentralized.

The Earth itself is telling us that there are very real physical limits to growth, that Earth’s “carrying capacity” for human activity is fast being surpassed. We can no longer allow economists, corporate chieftains, politicians, the business media, and others to tell us that every increase in our country’s Gross Domestic Product is happy news. We need to be sensible in our use of the Earth and restrained in our accumulation of things. Less really can be more.

This is an excerpt from Jim Hightower's column in the Dec/Jan issue of The Progressive, "Saving the Earth." To read Hightower's column in its entirety, along with this special issue, which contains interviews with Margaret Atwood and Bill McKibben and an article by Barbara Kingsolver, simply subscribe to The Progressive now! It costs only $14.97--which is 75% off the newsstand price.

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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