Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 365

As an environmentalist, I dread Earth Day. I cringe at the thought of people making up things to do that they wouldn’t normally do the other 364 days of the year. Using finite resources to burn fossil carbon and ultimately generate waste is NOT what the planet needs from us.

Maybe, instead, the planet needs us to pay attention, to get to know it a little better; stop treating it like an estranged relative we send a perfunctory holiday card to once a year. 

Maybe it needs us to inquire about its intricate systems and how they function gracefully together to support itself and all creatures living on it. Maybe it also needs us to understand where we enter and impact those systems. Maybe the planet needs people who don’t really know what to do in the midst of what we know

*We know we have made water a diminishing resource worldwide and wars are being fought over who has access to this basic, universal human right.

*We know we humans are causing climate change. Americans: stop dicking around with this.

*We know the chemical soup we live in is slowly poisoning us to death.

*We know our appetite for meat and cheap convenience food is destroying the lungs we need for breathing via annihilation of rain forests.

*We know this same overweening appetite for consumer goods is responsible for habitat destruction.

*If we can't figure out why black lives matter, how will we figure out brown, yellow, red and female lives world over are jeopardized by America's addiction to fossil fuels?

*While we're at it, will feathered, furry, scaly, finned, even microscopic lives ever matter enough for us to realize they're part of our earth family?

I can live ignoring this overwhelming, depressing info. I would venture to say most of us do. But our future hangs in the balance as we wallow in environmental illiteracy. Certainly the futures of many species have been snuffed out already because of this woeful illiteracy.

So if you don’t know what to do for Earth Day, especially after reading the aforementioned, consider doing something ordinary, something that can be done any and all of the other 364 days.

Pick one thing in nature you already love or sparks your curiosity and learn about it. And just as with a new love, your life will gradually align to nurture this relationship. If for instance you love the ocean, then eventually you’ll learn there’s more plastic than plankton in the ocean (you’ll even learn what plankton is). You’ll see the connection between how much plastic you’re bringing home and the islands of floating plastic in the ocean. You’ll evaluate and hopefully alter your purchasing habits. And by doing so, you’ll be celebrating Earth Day 365 days.

So that’s it. Learn about something: songbirds, butterflies, orangutans, dolphins, coral, coastal redwoods, African baobab trees (all on the endangered species list by the way). Learn about it in the same way you’d learn about a new love: with passion and curiosity, as if your life depended on it.

Because it does.