Posted by: Stephen Paul | July 30, 2007


Breathing has been on my mind lately. I got pnuemonia on a flight to the East coast this summer and it has been a very slow recovery: I still feel weak, wear out by late afternoon…and have labored breathing. While I’ve been doing some yoga and light weight training to keep my body moving, the activity I long for most is walking the hilly, tree-lined streets of my neighborhood.

It turns out that isn’t a good idea. It’s been over 100 degrees here in Salt Lake City a record number of days this summer. Yesterday my wife and I decided to take a short walk at 8:30 pm, after it had cooled off some. We had only walked a few blocks when I started coughing. Then I remembered: it was also a “Red Alert” day–a day (one of many) when the air quality is so poor they warn you to stay indoors–especially if you have trouble breathing. We turned around. 

The two problems I dealt with yesterday are the two major environmental problems we face here. The head of the University of Utah mechanical engineering department said in the newspaper yesterday that global warming data indicate that we have a lot more hotter summers ahead–probably a lot less snow in our ski resorts, too. He strongly encouraged that we shift away from our heavy use of fossil fuel and move to cleaner, renewable sources–fast.

Our governer has teamed up with other Western governors to propose state-level environmental actions. I think he’s serious. He even paid to have his own state vehicle converted to natural gas (not great, but much better). However, a second article in the paper this week reported that state vehicles (which had already been running on natural gas) are being replaced by flex fuel vehicles (which run on either gas or ethanol)–despite the Governor’s strong objections. It seems the employees who drive the vehicles don’t like having to go out of their way to gas up at the natural gas stations. As I understand, ethanol, even if they do use it–which I bet they won’t–really isn’t much of a solution.

Really, wouldn’t we rather breath? I would, and I’m sure you would, too. Let’s look at the initeria and resistance to change in our own lives. This is somewhat like overcoming the pull of gravity. The old choices, the familiar choices are the easiest (in many ways) choices. We need to consciously examine every choice to make sure it leads to simplicity, harmony, and respect–to better breathing…and living…on this earth.


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