Living each day much muchier
For decades now, the environmental movement has been asking us to save the planet.
We see images of habitats destroyed, rubbish piling up in remote areas and polar bears starving as our ice caps melt. Footage of the Earth from space shows a thin, blue line that stands between us and an inhospitable vacuum. We’re called to look beyond ourselves and our pointless consumer habits. Our earth is fragile. Save the earth.
The changes we’ve made since becoming aware of our impact have been slow. We are now in a proposed Anthropocene, an era of Earth’s history defined by the ways in which human beings have altered the state of an entire planet.
However, we don’t need to save the earth and talking about it seems to cause more controversy than inspiration.
Earth is not in jeopardy. It’ll be fine. It can and has crawled back from the most devastating circumstances. Volcanos. Floods. Earthquakes. Tornados. Continental shifts. Ice Ages. Meteors. Life gets wiped out and starts again in new, resilient and interesting ways.
It’s the nature of our world to tear itself apart, recover, proliferate, thrive and then destroy itself again to make way for something else. Humanity is not an outside force, threatening to ruin nature. We are nature, a force in and of this world. Humanity is the tsunami. We are the flame.
The Anthropocene is our species ballooning out of balance with the systems around us, but if you’re worried about the Earth, take heart. The imbalance will right itself at some point. Life is resourceful and resilient.
If you’re worried about us, then that’s another matter. Will our human systems survive the correction while maintaining the first-world comfort we’re used to? Can we continue to thrive, or will our civilisations become little more than a layer of curious sediment?
Personally, I think we’re much too clever to get wiped out. We live everywhere, from snowy pole to equatorial tropic, coastline and desert, city apartments and tribal huts. I’m not as confident that we’re intelligent or empathetic enough to evolve by choice before we’re forced to. My partner and I disagree on this. He has abundant hope for the evolution of humanity. I think humanity is clever, but not quite enough to work together to keep ourselves in check.
I know a lot of people don’t believe that climate change is a real thing – or if it’s real, it’s part of a natural fluctuation and we’re not responsible for it. People reject the apocalyptic hype as an overreaction at best, or an economic scare conspiracy at worst. People trust what they know and so far, that’s a relatively stable lifestyle. Their threats are more immediate, like job security, health and internet speed.
The threat of a looming doomsday is too unreal. It’s too big. It’s someone else’s problem, if it’s even a problem at all.
Whenever something is too big, we tend to feel helpless against it. We don’t even start. We shut it out or assume someone bigger than we are is responsible for solving it.
Maybe corporations should have a social conscience beyond what’s profitable, although our purchases ultimately decide that. Maybe governments, with all their legal and purchasing power, should intervene but democracy is subject to the conflicted will of fragmented society. Nanny states are a bore and we already complain about anything that doesn’t personally suit us.
The balancing forces of our environment are already emerging and flexing their might. They’re extreme weather events,shifting coastlines, the threat of pandemic and the myriad of cancers, illness and allergies exploding in our population. We are breaking the very ecosystem services that exist in support of life as we know it and consequently, life as we know it is changing.
I struggled for a long time to find a suitable end to this post. Doom and gloom is not my gig, but neither is dreamy hope that somehow it’ll all work out. I guess practical action is my gig. What can we do?
Stop trying to save the planet. I mean it.
Stop waiting for the world to change.
There’s an abundance of things readily available and in front of us to do. It’s not ignorance, it’s paralysis.
Choose one. It won’t turn you into a strange, hippie fruitarian who doesn’t wash their hair or believe in facebook. It’s simply what a conscientious, global citizen would do. Pick an easy thing like cooking your leftovers or switching off lights. Do it for awhile until it becomes a habit. Then pick another thing.
Trust me, the big guys are worrying about the big things. So let them take care of that and you take care of the little things in front of you.
With top-down and bottom-up effort, we may just save ourselves.
There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.