The "developed" nations had given to the "free market" the status of a god, and were sacrificing to it their farmers, farmlands, and communities, their forests, wetlands, and prairies, their ecosystems and watersheds. They had accepted universal pollution and global warming as normal costs of doing business.
Watersheds come in families; nested levels of intimacy... As you work upstream toward home, you're more closely related. The big river is like your nation, a little out of hand. The lake is your cousin. The creek is your sister. The pond is her child. And, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, you're married to your sink.
The Captains of Industry have always counseled the rest of us "to be realistic." Let us, therefore, be realistic. Is it realistic to assume that the present economy would be just fine if only it would stop poisoning the air and water, or if only it would stop soil erosion, or if only it would stop degrading watersheds and forest ecosystems, or if only it would stop seducing children, or if only it would stop buying politicians, or if only it would give women and favored minorities an equitable share of the loot?
It's hard to see a river all at once, especially in the mountains. Down on the plains, rivers run in their course as straightforward as time, channeled toward the sea. But up in the headwaters, a river isn't a point where you stand. In the beginnings of the river, you teeter on the edge of a hundred tiny watersheds where one drop of water is always tipping the balance from one stream to another. History changes with each tiny event, shaping an outcome that we can only fully grasp in hindsight. And that view changes as we move farther downstream.
Lynn Culbreath Noel
Rome wasn't built in a day, and we won't replace fossil fuels with clean energy based on the events of a single week, either. But the important thing to remember is that, once they happen, clean energy victories are irreversible. No one will tear down wind farms because they are nostalgic for fracking in our watersheds. And nobody will pull down their solar panels because they miss having mercury in their tuna or asthma inhalers for their kids. Because once we leave fossil fuels behind, we are never going back.