Human suffering is, in many ways, tied to the suffering of the Earth.
When farms dry out from drought, people move to the cities to look for jobs that, often, cannot sustain their large families (sometimes, none at all). Dwindling harvests and catches from the sea lead to lower food production levels, which lead to starvation, malnutrition, and poverty. Waste disposal techniques have not caught up with the conveniences of modern living, so much so that plastic bags and all sorts of rubbish have clogged up storm drains, causing floods and wreaking havoc on cities. Carbon emissions have contributed greatly to the greenhouse effect. The list goes on; most of our problems in the environment seem to be caused by our collective arrogance, apathy, and disrespect towards the environment.
I think the great human injustice is not his relationship with society, but his relationship with the environment. We’re a fairly new bunch in the grand scheme of evolution; we’ve been around for a few million years, yet we have caused catastrophic damage to entire ecosystems, destroyed the habitats of millions of species and made them extinct, and put more strain on the Planet’s resources than even the most fearsome predators that have existed. Indeed, we have not yet paid the price by being wiped off the face of Earth through extinction, yet we prolong our agony by accelerating climate change, by going through food shortages, and having almost every problem we have as a society tied down to a problem we have with the environment.
There are many steps that we can take to save the environment and to help reduce climate change. Like portable ashtrays, for example. We can recycle our plastic bottles instead of throwing them away. Our Government can sign the Kyoto Protocol and take active steps to use biofuels, solar energy, and hydroelectric energy. We can correct our lifestyles by using conserving electricity and water. We can start throwing garbage in their proper receptacles instead of throwing them into street gutters and storm drains. We can drive less and walk more. We can, in 2010, vote for the candidates with the strongest program for the environment, and for candidates who emphasize sustainable development as a policy.
Every step we take to save the environment should come with an understanding of our place in it: that we are not usurpers but caretakers, that the world does not revolve around us. Whatever we do to the environment can – and will – affect our relationships with everyone in society. Carbon emissions that lead to unstable weather patterns translate to flooding that highlight the injustices and inequalities that have built up in our society. In many ways, the harmony of society can only be achieved if we live in harmony with Nature. That way, we can start correcting the injustices that are present in society, and live in a place fair not only to man, but to the environment as well.
If only because we’ve already suffered too much.
Written in support of Blog Action Day 2009.