On his last album before his murder, John Lennon, my all-time favorite artist, wrote the following challenging lyric:
“People asking questions — lost in confusion./Well, I tell them there’s no problems — only solutions.” (from “Watching the Wheels Go Round”)
I say it’s challenging because OF COURSE there are problems, and people and institutions at fault for them. Yet the older I get, the more and more I find that questing for solutions instead of blaming, and conducting myself in a spirit of love and optimism instead of anger and hopelessness, are far more productive of positive change and personal happiness.
For the past half year I’ve been sending an artwork of some kind every month — my own or someone else’s, including books, music, and visual art — to a group of about four dozen friends and acquaintances. Last month’s was a favorite, judging from their feedback. It consisted of a matted version of this artwork, which has been in ALTE —
— and on the back of the matboard, I printed positive environmental news, which took me all of fifteen minutes to garner from Internet sources:
January 1st marked the start of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration • Joe Biden began his presidency with executive orders that reaffirmed the Paris Climate Accord, halted drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, terminated permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, and began the rollback of 125 environmentally heedless rules established by Trump • Peru has established a 2.7 million-acre rainforest preserve for the protection of “hidden” indigenous peoples • The bee population in Maine grew by 70 percent from 2019-20 • Scientists have perfected a technique for deriving drinkable water from seawater and contaminated water through solar evaporation • Coral reefs are being restored through the breeding and implantation of corals to make them less vulnerable to warming waters and pollution • Fifty countries, including the UK and most of Europe, have agreed to try to preserve 30 percent of the Earth’s land and water by the end of this decade in order to protect the diversity of species of animals and plants • A Kenyan company is converting waste plastic into bricks that are seven times stronger than concrete • Scientists in Virginia have learned how to restore seagrass beds in coastal waters • Two million people in India planted twenty million trees along the Ganges River in 2020, while socially distancing • Spain is turning its famous Seville oranges, which emit methane as they rot, into a source for electricity-generation • Germany is well on its way to fulfilling its goal of generating 65 percent of its energy from renewable sources within the decade, and has banned single-use plastic and styrofoam • Canadian scientists have developed an eco-friendly alternative to palm oil that could end a major cause of habitat destruction • Hundreds of elephants have returned to Virunga National Park in the Congo after years of being terrorized by poachers • A French corporation has discovered an enzyme in composted leaves that can break down plastic to a recyclable form in only hours • An international group of scientists has reported that half the world’s fish populations are increasing in protected waters • Dutch engineer Boyan Slat’s “Interceptor” machine can remove 110 tons of plastic trash from the ocean every day. He aims to float them in 1,000 rivers over the next few years • Leydy Pech, a Mayan beekeeper, leads a coalition that has prevented Monsanto from planting genetically modified “Roundup ready” soybeans in seven Mexican states • The last known 14 Chilean Loa water frogs produced 200 tadpoles last October . . .
Feels better than despair, yes? Maybe John Lennon was right.
And once we have some hope, we feel summoned to do something about it, as opposed to eating, drinking and making merry, for tomorrow we die . . .
—Lawrence Bush for Alte: Getting Old Together
P.S. The theme for our next issue is “The Future.” The deadline is July 15th. Please send your artworks and writings to firstname.lastname@example.org.