Scientists, entrepreneurs, international agencies, co-operating governments, tireless healthcare workers and responsible parents eradicated smallpox. Polio has almost been eliminated in the same way.

If we can do it for smallpox, why not violence, poverty, oppression, corruption, pollution, AIDS and malaria? Why not have a peaceful, plentiful, inclusive, healthy human experience for everyone?

Incompetent leaders sometimes stop progress but so do ordinary people when we engage in solutions that do not do the whole job. Then, rather than creatively solving a problem, we blame bad leaders or criticize folks who do not affirm our efforts. If the ineffective solution is bothersome, the sacrifice it entails may inspire the dutiful to intensify commitment, making the problem chronic.

To fight global warming in my neighborhood, we are supposed to refrain from using ‘garbarators’ (grinding machines that dispose of waste from the kitchen sink). Food roughage must not be discharged to the sewer but stored for weekly pick-up in the green-box. Recycling kitchen garbage takes resources; in the summer, odor and health-risk are troublesome. Judged by scientific and entrepreneurial standards, our efforts do not do very much toward actually helping the environment.

Many of my neighbors are house-proud, decorating their front porches with vases and elaborate floral arrangements. Imagine what would happen if someone opened an illegal commercial kitchen in her home, filling her front porch with green-boxes. The law would charge her with nuisance, zoning infractions, perhaps worse, and force her to desist. She would be the subject of gossip and derision.

Some ecological ideas suggest that local production and distribution are the most resource conserving. Although the person who turned her home into a commercial kitchen may be on the most effective track environmentally, the chances of positive validation for this experiment are zero.

Generally, the world is more peaceful and plentiful than it was seventy years ago. The flowers are pretty and the odor just enough to remind us of our dutiful sacrifice. Will complacency stop progress?

Garbarator users and law-breakers are not morally right. Green-boxers are morally good, but does our goodness obscure clear thinking?

The green-box means engagement in environmentalism and I am personally devoted to using it. But I want to show commitment to the cause without deluding myself that answers are found. Attachment to the green-box must not drive out searching for scientific and entrepreneurial solutions.

Science, thoroughness and giving up old ways solved the smallpox problem. These methods are still essential.





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