Please Don't Eat the Mountains

07/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We want to save our lives. There is one thing we must do. The thing we must do is consume less. We must cut our consumption in half, and learn to live that way, and then halve it again. Some of us have started already. Earth-a-lujah!

We will spend years learning what 'consuming less' means. If we teach ourselves how -- then it will begin like remedial reading, opening our eyes and ears, slowing down. If the de-consuming is forced on us by the global economy and its eco-cidal collapse, then store hours were the sad hours that we lived.

As each layer of consumption is peeled away, there will be new emotions, different economies, new ideas of beauty. That triumphal Enlightenment that put us at the center of history -- that discredited life will come back at us with a vengeance. Corporations will argue that convenience is the same thing as freedom. Big religions will say that deadly myths of prosperity are eternal life. Governments will state flatly - they already have - that those who stop shopping are unpatriotic.

We are shopping our way out of the recession! -- crows the New York Times. The lead article last Sunday: "But We Need The Oil." Could the Gray Lady lull us back to American middle-class consuming as our highest calling? Since the recession began two years ago, the environment has dropped to 20th among our concerns. But the earth is not a separate "issue." It is not on a list.

Life on earth is talking to us. The oil and ash and tsunamis and mudslides and tornadoes - these are massive memos from the life that preceded us. The asthma and cancers in the families under the strip-mined mountains, they have the moaning, distorted cry of the earth in their bodies. Don't hide this. Make it your lead story. One-third of the energy we consume is dirty coal. The smooth light in our rooms divides us from the murder of the mountains, but you cannot divide the earth from itself. This becomes clear when we consume less.

Got some free time? Let's stop eating the earth alive. We must consume less of the earth that's butchered into pieces and pushed toward us in flashy boxes. When we reach and grab for that product, we could -- if we wanted to -- feel a very old recoil in our hand. There are resistance songs ringing in the blood of the dullest consumer. Check out the very generous return policy when you BUY LOCAL. You're consuming less power. And people are around you are effortlessly smiling!

Of course it is possible that it is all too late. I have a daughter now so I'm hoping for the best. If we do consume less, will the earth notice and give us some more ... life? Things will never be the same, and we were never the main point. I know that. But I believe that the mountains we warred against and shopped into the ground will know when their killers change.