Happy Earth Day everyone! But of course, we must remember that everyday is Earth Day, not just today.
We must also remember that we do not need to worry about Nature. Nature has been around for billions of years, and Nature has survived 5 major mass extinctions. The worst one, The Permian Extinction, wiped out about 90% of the life on the planet. So human activity may cause temporary chaos – but Nature will get past it – even if it takes her 100,000 years to clean up the mess human beings have caused, this is just a drop in the bucket in the overall scale of time.
Human beings are the ones who should be worried. If we continue to destroy the resources we need to survive – there will be a massive scale of death of human beings in the billions. This sounds far-fetched, but remember that a plague alone killed a third of Europe’s population in the 13th century. What percentage of the world’s people would die if we were dealing with global plague, famine, increased super storms – and of course the wars ignited in reaction to these things?
The global environmental crisis isn’t just something that will stay in the third world either – already it is wrecking havoc in California with the chronic water shortage.
So climate change is a real issue – THE issue – and we need to take it very seriously.
If we don’t do something soon as a society, we will reach the point of no return. At a certain point, problems will start solving themselves – just not in a way that we would like. (Think of Hurricane Sandy times 100).
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ON A GLOBAL LEVEL
I won’t be able to go over everything in minute detail, or else this blog post would turn into a book. But I’ll go over a few basics.
- THE SHIFT TO A CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY: When I say “clean energy,” I’m not talking about “natural” gas. Putting the word “natural” in a name doesn’t make it any more clean or natural. Fracking has actually been shown to cause more pollution than the standard oil drilling, (since fracking releases methane – and methane is at least 20 times more powerful as a green house gas than Carbon Dioxide). There needs to be an initiative on a major level to transition away from our global dependency on oil drilling, fracking and coal burning – and shift towards solar and wind power. The transition towards a “Clean Energy Economy” would actually create millions of new jobs and would be better for the environment overall. Also, according to CleanTechnica, such a shift would create around 3 million new jobs in America alone and would only cost 1.2% of the GDP. To put this in perspective, keep in mind that the top earning companies have used 4% of public GDP just to improve the worth of their own company stocks. (The Atlantic, 2015).
- A MAJOR AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION: One of the largest causes of pollution and environmental destruction is the structure of our global food systems. Modern agriculture has set in motion a gigantic reduction in global water supplies. Industrial fertilizers were only invented 100 years ago, so there is no long term track record of what they are going to do to the planet (which is pretty scary!). Modern fertilizers have also played a role in the extinction of helpful species (such as bees, bats and frogs), as well as destroying the local soil. The domestication of animals on a major level also requires a large amount of land, the consumption of vegetation, the destruction of forest land, and releases a record amount of methane in the atmosphere. On a global scale, the agriculture industry is the largest cause of methane emissions (EPA). Yes, industrial agriculture has been helpful so far in averting global famine, but it doesn’t have a long term future. A global shift towards family owned organic farms, urban farming, self sustainability and even low meat diets would be a start in solving this problem. There needs to be a greater conversation about a “Plan B” for achieving a realistic replacement plan for the non-viable Industrial Agriculture system.
- TACKLING ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ON A POLITICAL/LEADERSHIP LEVEL: Much of the modern narrative about Environmentalism has been about what you – as an individual – can do to save the planet. There is all this talk about buying new light bulbs, driving a hybrid and shopping at Whole Foods. Perhaps if everyone did these things it might make some minor difference, but the major cause of pollution and global warming is actually caused by large industries that can really only be regulated by the government. The problem is that in many governments (particularly America) Environmental reform is occurring at a glacial pace – if not a non-existent pace. The Environment wasn’t even mentioned in the 2012 presidential election until hurricane Sandy hit New York; Here’s a scary fact, half of the newly elected Congress doesn’t believe in global warming (motherboard) – compare this to the fact that 97% of scientists do believe in global warming.
- TACKLING THE LIE THAT A HEALTHY ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT CAN’T EXIST SIDE BY SIDE: The lie that many big companies use to avoid new regulations or a shift towards a more environmentally positive policy is this idea that environmental reform isn’t “profitable.” This is a lie, a complete and total lie. The reality is that today’s big businesses would actually not be profitable if they had to pay for the resources they used. Industries like big oil and big agriculture (Monsanto) receive a record amount of subsidies and government level support to keep their industries afloat. None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use (Grist, 4-17-13). The reality is that an energy-efficient economy would actually be much more profitable, create more jobs, would have a better chance at a long term future and would be better for the environment. After all, what is big oil going to do when they run out of oil? How much longer can the fracking industry last? Most scientists give them only 20 years. What is big-agro going to do when they run out of ground water? The reality is that the people who are currently in power are scared – as they should be – because their companies have no long-term future, are not truly profitable. Here is another fact. An economy can’t exist when its people are dead. Environmental reform on a large scale is key if we are to solve the major issues of our time.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS AN INDIVIDUAL?
From what I wrote above, I made it sound like that the individual can’t do much, but that is not true. As an individual, you can actually do a lot to help the planet. But the main contribution won’t be using an energy efficient lightbulb (although that is a thoughtful gesture), your contribution will be in using your voice, your talents, your activism and your creativity to help contribute towards the creation of a culture and political system that prioritizes the protection of nature and the development of sustainable systems.
Here are some ideas for Earth Day action for the individual.
- Think about how you can use your voice and your talents to spread awareness about the destruction of life on the planet and the need for major environmental change.
- Plant a tree (Like I said, won’t change the world. But it is a fun Earth Day activity that will help your local environment and help get you more in touch with nature).
- Go for a hike in nature.
- Host a clean up at your local park.
- Start a garden (Growing your own food won’t cause a revolution, but its a positive step towards sustainability and ending the dependence on destructive agricultural systems).
- Donate your time or money to a company/cause that fights for climate change/climate justice.
- If you vote, look into the candidate that has the best track record of environmental protection
- Consider eating a low meat diet (or getting your meat at a Farmer’s Market). Apparently half of the world’s crops are used to feed domesticated animals. I’ve already talked about the problems of Industrial Agricultural above. If the meat industry was downsized, that would be more land – less pollution – and more crops for the hungry. The U.S. could feed 800 million people alone with the crops that domesticated farm animals eat (Cornell).
- Get in touch with Earth Based Spirituality. One of the greatest things we need to do to change is change our culture – change our perception of our role on this planet. This world wasn’t meant to be mankind’s plaything. The growth of indigenous, Earth based religions and traditions around the globe is helping to focus people’s attention towards what really matters. Looking at the Earth as a divine mother, rather than a material product is the first step towards a positive change.
NOW ENJOY SOME ENVIRON-METAL
HAVOK – POINT OF NO RETURN
While this video deals with a variety of geopolitical issues, I thought this video does a great job of hammering home the point that humanity is reaching a point of “no return.” If we don’t achieve real change now, we’ll reach a point where problems will start solving themselves – in a way that we don’t like.
KREATOR – PEOPLE OF THE LIE
Much of the structure of today’s world is a lie – the lie that this is a good system and if you cooperate you’ll have a good future. Perhaps things may look good now (if you live in a developed country, and are in a part of that country with a strong economy). But much of our current wealth has been borrowed from the planet, and borrowed against the future. This current lifestyle has no long term future. The politicians won’t tell you that – but it is the truth. Our current system and its leaders are the people of the lie.
TESTAMENT – DARK ROOTS OF EARTH
“Dark roots of the Earth
Echoes an eternity
Dark roots of the earthy
Will see us home eventually”
A simple but powerful point. The dark, primordial power of the Earth is a long lasting, ancient truth. We will find ourselves home if we connect with nature, and if we do not – we’ll find our ruin.