There will be

no more orangutans

in the wild

in 12 years.

Can you live with that? What are you going to tell your kids? That you changed the light bulbs?

I’m very fond of red-headed baby apes, having given birth to one myself. I don’t get the sense that things like this keep most Americans up at night.

It keeps me up at night.

The US finally gave in at Bali. But not really. They refused to agree to any fixed or mandatory limits to carbon emissions in any specified time frame. What they did agree to was that we should all get together and talk about this again in two years.

I’m sure our tax dollars paid for the members of that delegation to have some lovely tropical drinks in air-conditioned bars while soaking up the scenery, though, and probably some cool souvenirs for the kids too. We should all feel good about that.

(You did know there was an environmental conference going on, right?)

The US government doesn’t feel any sense of urgency. They know there’s oil, of a sort, right next door in Canada. And plenty of it. Enough to guarantee that the US government and corporations will have zero motivation to explore alternative energy sources:

The oil sands are estimated to contain 174 billion barrels of oil, second only to Saudi Arabia’s 260 billion barrels.

In contrast, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains only about 10 billion barrels. The Energy Department predicts output there will reach a peak of about 1 million barrels per day within a few years after the estimated 2015 start, and will decline gradually thereafter.

Companies such as ChevronTexaco, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Petro-Canada and Suncor Energy have made multibillion-dollar investments in the oil sands in recent years, raising total production to about 1 million barrels per day. If sufficient natural gas is available to cook the sludge, output from the oil sands is expected to reach 2 million barrels per day by 2010, rising to 3 million by 2020 and as much as 5 million for many decades to come. More...

So let’s talk about the National Rifle Association. You always hear about the powerful gun lobby. The gun lobby isn’t powerful because the lobbyists hold their guns to people’s heads. It’s powerful because the NRA has about 4.3 million members.

Why don’t we green people have an association with a capital A? Not a political party, not a government watchdog, but a nonprofit, non-governmental association that can lobby for the environment. One big, loud voice, just like the big, loud gun people. One giant umbrella organization with only two purposes: to lobby on behalf of its membership and to be a central resource for information about the hundreds (or thousands?) of little environmental groups all over the country.

Seriously, why don’t we have one? Any ideas on how to start one? Who do we write to?

Let’s get real. Nobody can keep up with the activities of every little green group. I love ‘em, but I don’t have the time to read all their sweet, earnest, think-globally-act-locally, buy organic e-newsletters. With things in this splintered state, we’ll never get anywhere. It’s time to get serious.

I want to be a card-carrying member of this Association. I’ll pay dues. I’ll pay the dues for somebody who can’t afford them. I’ll buy memberships for everybody in my family for Christmas.

I want to know how many people in America really do give a shit about the environment. I want the government to know. There have to be more than a thousand of us.

There’s safety in numbers. Don’t kid yourself; it’s safety we’re talking about here.