Food for Thought

I’m just in from a few days of South Carolina rest and relaxation doing the sort of thing I’ve been dreaming of through the recent weeks of dedicated book preparation: wading a slow sandy creek and trying to catch catfish. The outing was for my nephew Stephen as well, a chance for him to escape the confines of school and join me in the muddy water near his South Carolina home. And we caught fish, too: channel catfish, longear sunfish, bluegills and a bullhead. It was good to recline on a streambank after dark waiting for bites – just simplicity, that’s all.

The book has been handed off for some brief technical editing and then collation in the format Susan, an excellent graphic designer, has created.

I’ve been thinking again this week, as I often do, about some of the really big environmental questions. As far as most of us seem to know, environmental protection works about like this: Environmental advocacy groups lobby the government to protect the air, water, endangered animals, native species, the climate, etc. Government, through its careful processes and special committees, creates the right laws to stop capitalism and industry from destroying what’s left of our natural resources. The new laws (and there are always new ones) come with appropriate fines and other penalties for offending businesses and individuals. Hence, all living things remain happy and appropriately protected.

This is, essentially, the model we’ve learned through the latter half of the Twentieth Century. It’s popular in the schools – simple to teach, I guess. But is it the best way? For those of us who value individual liberty above all else, it seems that there must be an alternative to ever-expanding bureaucracies like the Environmental Protection Agency. Can we save the earth and preserve individual liberty? Without governmental oversight, will we lose our natural heritage? Completely apart from us humans and our sometimes petty schemes, what efforts has the earth itself made toward its protection and recovery? Do we appreciate the complexity of the biosphere fully enough to create law which guarantees certain desirable outcomes?

The Dying Fish is almost ready and it’s a place where some of these larger questions will be asked and some possible answers proposed though always as food for thought – I don’t have all the answers either. First and foremost though, the book is meant to be an adventure – the trek it chronicles certainly was. I just pause now and then along the way to consider some things I think might be important.

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