Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #19
Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018
WARNING: ENVIRONMENTALIST RANT
Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory of my people. The white man is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he wants. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy.
Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. —
That was written by Chief Seattle of the Duwanish tribe in 1855 in a letter to President Franklin Pierce. It could be written today to our present President just as well. We’ve polluted our own beds, and we’re close to the tipping point after which it will be too late. The tipping point, as explicated by Malcolm Gladwell in his book of the same name, is like making a pile of rice one grain at a time. You reach a point at which adding even one more single grain causes the whole pile to collapse. It is the straw that broke the camel’s back in the old Arab proverb.
We know how to generate clean, nonpolluting energy, but political forces are holding us back from doing it. I read several years ago that Portugal was generating all its electricity from clean, nonpolluting sources. Other European countries are on track to do the same. But not us, Do we have to wait until we pass the tipping point when the whole shebang collapses before we realize that cleaning up our act is not optional? We’re no longer cavemen who just discovered fire, and we need to stop burning stuff, particularly “fossil fuels,” and chopping down forests.
I have friends who are living “off the grid” right now, and are perfectly happy. Maybe there should be no grid. Make every household and building self sufficient. Is that possible? Yes, but it would require lifestyle changes we seem unwilling to make as a society.
For the global warming deniers I have this to say: It IS happening. Whether it’s totally anthropogenic or a natural cycle that we’re adding to and speeding up is really irrelevant. We need to stop contributing to it either way. At least for now this is the only planet we’ve got. We could have colonies on Mars one day and maybe even on other planets orbiting other stars, but until we figure out how to get into space using ways other than brute force rockets, that’s a long way off. Once we learn how gravity and inertia really work, we’ll be able to control them and move through space at near-infinite speed with very little energy expended, and the energy we need is out there to be harvested from “empty space” once we learn how. Some brilliant new Einstein will hit on the answer one day. I just hope she/he is not too late.
As Mark Twain wrote:
The researches of many commentators have already thrown much darkness on this subject, and it is probable that if they continue we shall soon know nothing at all about it.
Space migration, the first part of Tim Leary’s famous mantra SMI2LE (Space Migration, Intelligence Squared, Life Extension) is our ultimate future: “The finer part of mankind will, in all likelihood, never perish — they will migrate from sun to sun as each goes out. And so there is no end to life, to intellect, and the perfection of humanity. Its progress is everlasting.”. Konstintin E. Tsiolkovsky, father of rocketry and the Soviet space program wrote that. I agree with Tsiolkovsky that our future is in the Universe, but we must preserve this precious planetary womb until we are able to go forth “where no one has gone before.”
One of the more interesting people I’ve met in my life is Aleksander Balandin, Cosmonaut who spent six months in space aboard the old Mir space station. We met at a conference in San Marino where I was a speaker in 1996. Because he spoke no English and I no Russian, we relied on his handler Boris Tchourinoff to converse when we met for meals. I asked Aleksander what was the most beautiful thing he saw in space, and without pause he said, “Las Vegas at night.”. He wanted, he said, to go there one day. I told him not to, just to hold the memory, because seeing the real place would spoil the fantasy. Like most Astronauts and Cosmonauts, Aleksander had developed a deep, almost spiritual, feeling for the fragility of our planet, and the need to preserve it. (His handler/translator kept telling me, “I am not KGB because there is no more KGB.) But he clearly was there to watch over Aleksander and to make sure he gave away no secrets, and several times I could tell he was editing his translation and leaving things out. But we had a great time notwithstanding. We went out late one night since we were all not on local time, and I took a bunch of pictures of Boris clowning around after having a little too much to drink. I got the feeling that Russians like to have their fun, let their hair down, so to speak. But it was obvious that protection of our planet was as important to them as it was to me.
About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348. Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-my-years-at-shutterbug/