As the next election approaches, I hear everyone, on both sides, talking about jobs.

Lately, however, I find myself asking “Jobs doing what”? Shouldn’t we begin to have some plans about where the economy is moving? Shouldn’t we begin to decide which activities are beneficial to our Earth and help us create a safe world for our children?

Take as an example the paper industry. Cutting wood is a job, but anybody who has wandered into one of those massive clear-cuts north of us might guess that that is not the best thing for the forest. At the same time, we realize that selective cutting is not economically feasible. The price of pulpwood makes that impossible.

Then follow that wood to the paper mill. There are jobs there, too. There are ways to manufacture paper that are less harmful to the environment than those now practiced, but they’re not economically feasible.

Keep going. Someone had a job doing the layout, printing and delivering the junk mail I receive every day. When I get junk mail, I bundle it up and take it the transfer station to be recycled. There are plenty of real and good uses for paper, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of waste, too.

During the recent uprising in Egypt, we watched as tear gas was being lobbed at the peaceful protesters. Most of the canisters were printed with the words “Made in U.S.A.” Somewhere in Pennsylvania people have jobs making tear gas.

Meanwhile, because of funding cutbacks, teachers lose their jobs and kids are in trouble. Funding to develop alternative energy is cut back. Our planet continues to get hotter and hotter, and we approach an irreversible tipping point.

What a terrible, preventable shame.

 

Abby Shahn, Solon

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