ON Kilter: Cove Fort had it right

OPINION – I recently drew a comparison between statements made by proponents of the Lake Powell Pipeline – who say that lack of growth is a sign of death – and cancer cells. I said that the mantra of a cancer cell is also to voraciously grow, as it kills its host. In this analogy, I am of course implying that we, humanity, are the host and our growth and consumptive habits are the cancer.

It is this reason, when it is really boiled down, that we find ourselves in the mess of the Middle East, most recently Syria.

Not just over oil interests mind you, but energy interests.

Crude oil, natural gas, tar sands. These depletable resources are essential to meet the needs of a worldwide civilization; we cannot live without them.

Not to delve into complete nihilism here, but, as Rick Ridgeway eloquently wrote, when the prediction is that by 2050 our planet will be 300-500 percent beyond its capacity to renew itself, we will have achieved sustainable bankruptcy.

Optimism, while good, lends some to believe in earnest that technology will be our saving grace. (Because by the time we have completely polluted the drinking water on the planet, there will surely be an app for your phone from which you can drink.)

According to Yvon Chouinard, if everyone on the planet consumed the way an average American does, humans would be using up more than four planets’ worth of resources. It is not sustainable.

The intelligent approach, Chouinard goes on to say, is to choose to consume more responsibly, by perhaps relearning how to be citizens and being part of the strongest force in society: a civil democracy.

Applicable to Washington County? Absolutely.

The necessity of the Lake Powell Pipeline, by its proponents’ own profession, is marked by projections of copious amounts of growth in the region – a region where history simply has not favored overpopulation and dependency on a scarce and depletable resource like water.

We cannot grow our way into more water, no matter what an “analyst, not an advocate” says, anymore than positive thinking can remove an illness.

But, any versions of limitation on growth or viable solutions thereto are anathema to anyone in office. John Wesley Powell can attest to that.

Powell went from being one of the most influential people in Washington to one of the most hated and ostracized after his exploration and research of the West concluded that the push for settlement in that direction was anything but a good or sustainable idea.

More than a century later, he is still right; however, those who align with this truth find themselves on the outs with those who maintain that the litmus test for the health of a community is determined by the number of retail “get something, use it, tire of it, throw it away … (repeat endlessly)” establishments of which it can boast.

Now before you click back to Facebook because you tire of my left-leaning ways, understand I am not advocating no growth. I, like Chouinard, believe that zero growth and the stagnation it engenders is not the way to maintain a healthy and productive society. But neither is one that relies on insatiable consumerism.

What is needed is an economy that stops harmful practices and replaces them with new ones, more efficient ones, or older ones that worked just fine.

I recently took a tour of Cove Fort off Interstate 15-Interstate 70 interchange.

I was quite literally taken aback by the impeccable Mormon craftsmanship of the barn. I was even more impressed by the manner in which this pioneer fort utilized everything to its last breath. A used blanket became a pair of pants, that became bedding for a mattress, that became kindling for a stove …

While I am not at all kindred to the theological assertions of the Mormon faith, I give credit where it is due: These people were some of the most prudent stewards of the Earth’s resources in the history of this country.

Mind if I ask what happened?

To express it in terms that they understand, it’s as if this same people’s descendants have turned their culture over to the Lamanites, allowing their elected officials to sell them a grandiose project such as the Lake Powell Pipeline in the name of, let’s face it consumerism?

Do you see the hypocrisy there?

Where has the ethic of good stewardship gone?

There is a difference between addressing a problem and putting it off for further generations to deal with but recognizing the difference is not enough.

But the solution may require more discipline than even those who went before us clearly had.

Although, they did not have technology. They only possessed wit, courage, and determination, all of which do not require rechargeable batteries that decay in the earth for thousands of years, but rather rechargeable bodies that are fueled by what grows from an uncontaminated earth.

I defy you to disagree.

See you out there.

 

Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: dhyland@stgnews.com

Twitter: @dallashyland

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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