My passion for the possibility of doing for pollution what abolitionists did to slavery: transform it from something normal, as if part of nature, to forever seen as wrong. The more I learn the difficulty of conceiving of the Thirteenth Amendment, banning slavery, let alone passing it, the more possible a parallel amendment on pollution seems. Jim and I continue our conversation on abolition's history, mainly from the vantage point of his book Freedom National. I understand a lot more of the history of thirteen slave colonies becoming thirteen slave states then a nation of free and slave states, then with the Thirteenth Amendment, a free nation of thirty-six free states. Jim knows it backward and forward. He helps clarify that history for me and you. Then we consider applying lessons from history to today. Jim also clarifies what a movement today would need. I love finding history so relevant.
The only was I can see how we can avoid environmental disaster leading to human population collapse is by changing our culture---every unsustainable culture but America most, as the most polluting per capita large nation. Can we do it in time? Humanity has changed on a global level within a few generations at least once before. Slavery was legal, normal, and seen as good around the globe since before written history. Then in the late 1700s, abolition increased until within a century people widely viewed it as wrong. Not long after, nations made it illegal nearly everywhere. Jim Oakes is one of America's leading historians of America's abolition movement. I met him at his office, where we spoke about American abolition, Abraham Lincoln, the Thirteenth Amendment, and how it happened. The history is fascinating on its own, all the more since I didn't learn it enough growing up, and more so for seeing its application to sustainability. I see a constitutional amendment as increasingly necessary, however inconceivable it seems to pass. The more I learn of the Thirteenth Amendment, the more it seemed impossible to pass, yet I doubt I've met anyone who would promote repealing it today. This conversation was a pleasure; informative and inspirational for someone looking to learn from history to apply it today.