“Physical degradation of the natural world is also the degradation of the interior world of the human.” (Thomas Berry, “The New Political Alignment,” in The Great Work, 110).
Our Dreams, Earth’s Nightmares: DAPL, Hurricane Matthew, and the Human Effect on Planet Earth
The October installment of Monday Night PlayGround will be our third year collaborating with Planet Earth Arts on the Planet Earth Arts New Play Festival. The plays this year will be focusing on the topic “Awakening to the Dreams of the Earth”. The topic itself rings of hope, the word dream implies a lofty idealization of the way we envision our Planet to be, how we see ourselves interacting with it and then how we envision the Earth’s interaction with us. We often like to speak about our desires for this planet as if we had an infinite amount of time. What a grave mistake that is, to have such lofty ideas leaves little room for a sense of urgency to address the very real issues occurring in our global environment today. Two of those most urgent issues are Hurricane Matthew and the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. Both of these environmental issues highlight the affect that we as humans have on our Planet and in turn how our Planet affects us.
Since September 29th Hurricane Matthew (which is no categorized as a post-tropical cyclone) has devastated the Southern America (Colombia), the Caribbean Islands (Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas) and in the U.S. Matthew has torn through Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. With winds reaching up to 157+ miles per hour Matthew has left 1000 people dead in Haiti (a country who is now fighting against cholera in their storm ravaged country) and 23 people dead in the United States (so far). Some say that the that the increases in both the number of storms but also the strength of the storms is due to the changing climate affected by constant destruction of the Earth through frakking, increased non-compostable waste, and the constant mining and exploitation of natural resources.Right now as you are reading this there is a large peaceful protest movement occurring to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a project approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers to create a 1, 172 mile long 30 inch wide pipeline that would transport light, sweet crude oil from the North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. This pipeline would be pumping 470,00 barrels of crude oil, the equivalent of 374.3 million gallons of personal gasoline per day. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe sued the corps saying that not only will the pipeline effectively destroy their environment and spiritual well being as it would destroy/disturb sites of great historic, religious and cultural significance, but also, it puts the Missouri River (which the pipeline would run directly under) at risk for contamination if the pipeline were to ever burst or rupture. During the presidential debate on Sunday evening, the U.S. Congress rejected the injunction that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had against the continued the construction, yesterday, as protesters peacefully held space at the construction site police in riot gear moved in on them arresting many protesters for trespassing, those that were not arrested were berated and forcefully moved away from the site.
Dakota Access Pipeline Project
With the existence of both Hurricane Matthew and the DAPL we see the macro and micro effects of human decisions on Planet Earth. On the one hand we are seeing how our negative decisions affect the the planet globally through the increase of natural disaster and the damage they cause, on the other, we are witnessing our government cast necessary caution to the wind and put at risk another major body of water (despite the oil leaks in to the Gulf and the Flint, Michigan catastrophe) in order to funnel oil for capital gain. In the midst of that, we have two presidential candidates, one who believes that global warming is man-made fiction (Trump), the other believes that global warming is an urgent matter that is scientifically proven and thus wants to focus on alternative/clean energy policies (Clinton). One of these two people will be the ones making the decisions that either continue the acceleration of the physical degradation of the Earth or takes the steps to right our wrongs and make the safety and longevity of our environment a priority.