The Earth is Cool

How often do you think about the earth? Personally, I love it. I think Earth is an S tier ball in space out of all the balls in space out there. I love the oceans, the mountains, the forests, the deserts. Every piece of it is so amazing and unique. In fact, at least 80% of the most beautiful things I've ever seen have come from planet Earth! And it's not just that the Earth itself is cool. The fact that it's able to sustain so much life on and in it is incredible. Like, not only is it very neat that I'm here and alive, but there are also billions of other humans who are also here and alive, and tens of billions more animals, and hundreds of billions more plants, and all of those are just little things compared to the vastness of the planet as a whole. 
There's a trend in a lot of spiritualities from all around this big globe to refer to Earth as a motherly figure. She gives us life, sustains us, takes care of our needs. She doesn't spoon feed us by any means, and some lessons are harder to learn than others, but at the end of the day considering the amount of children she has I'd say she's doing a pretty amazing job of it. 
Which is why it's so crazy to me that we're so determined to kill her.
Now obviously, we're not actively trying to kill the planet, or at least most of us aren't. But as humans we seem to have a really big issue with the concept of foresight. The actions that we take might not be the same as flipping a switch and dooming us, but it's the totality of the small choices over time that can cause things to become worse, and that's hard for us to conceptualize. Especially on the vast scale of generations. 
Here's the thing though. Just because it's hard to conceptualize doesn't mean it isn't noticeable. The past decade has been world record breaking over and over again. Hottest average temperatures, highest sea levels ever, largest amount of fire damage in recorded history. There have been alarm bells blaring for the past couple generations, but now we've sprung a leak. The damage is already occurring. 
And it's not just climate change either. That's bad enough, but arguably equally as arrogant in my opinion is the blatant rejection of the natural world that we happen to find ourselves in. Let's face it. The world (for the most part) revolves around humans nowadays. We've dumped trash and chemicals and everything else into those oceans, polluting them and destroying the habitats that exist there. We've blown holes through mountains to create roads that we can drive our cars through. We've cleared those forests to keep expanding our empire of concrete and glass. We've even managed to build mega cities filled with splendor in the middle of those vast deserts, almost as if to spite nature itself.
All these things are to the benefit of humans and humans alone. While I can't exactly conduct an interview here, I can be pretty confident that the wolves that used to live here are pretty pissed that we hunted them nearly to extinction so that we could more easily take over those territories. And sure, we try and give back here and there, but the trees sparsely populating a mega mall's parking lot really don't feel like a fair way to replace the flora and fauna that used to be there. Some animals have adapted better to this human world than others: seagulls, rats and pigeons certainly seem to be doing alright. But in my opinion that's just not good enough. 
If you're reading this, more than likely you agree with everything that I'm saying. Zoos tend to be more tuned into what's happening in the natural world around us. But, I can hear you asking, "What are we supposed to do about it?" 
That's where it gets complicated. The thing is, there isn't really a lot that you specifically can do. There are some choices that you can make that are better than others, such as keeping your energy usage down, reusing household things instead of continuously buying disposable ones, using public transit instead of a personal vehicle if possible. Recycling is good, right? But even that feels so pointless sometimes. Especially when the total amount of plastic waste that actually gets recycled in the US is usually quoted as around 5%-9%. The rest of it ends up in landfills which just grow and grow, taking more and more land, and not putting those resources back into circulation
But there's more to it than just our own individual responsibilities. You can do your part, but if the companies that cause most of the pollution don't also change, then what you do probably doesn't add up to much at the end of the day. And if governments aren't holding those companies accountable then that's a failing as well. 
The issue is, I can't just book a meeting with the CEO of McDonald's and have a friendly conversation with him about the issue with so many disposable items, and the ecological issues that come with the amount of the Amazon getting burned to make room for more cows. Nor can I text the CEO of Exxon Mobil and ask him pretty please to stop dumping oil in the ocean. As much as I'd love to be able to effect change on that huge of a scale so easily, I'm just a raccoon person on the internet. I don't have that kind of power. 
Here's the thing though. All those companies only care about one thing. The bottom line. The numbers. But as a collective, we're much more powerful than any one person. Unfortunately, we're not all on the same page.
Wouldn't it be amazing if one day we could all just decide out of the blue that we cared about the Earth? We all stopped eating meat and embraced public transit and installed solar panels on our roofs. We could all ditch straws, and instead all tilt our cups and heads slightly in order to drink things because it's objectively the best for the environment. We start using reusable grocery bags as well! Maybe we even decide that we want to start giving back to nature, and so we cut down on the amount of things we buy from the store and instead have our own gardens, our own ecosystems of growing things for ourselves and giving some amounts of it back to the nature around us. We could even stop littering and throwing our trash around everywhere, and could even make an effort to keep the world around us cleaner than it would be without us. How cool would that be?
Unfortunately, that's not reality. And in the same way that I can't change corporations by scheduling a couple of meetings this next week, I also can't change the minds of the masses. In fact, I'm sure that at least one of the things I listed caused you some hesitation, even if they'd all be better for the planet. Rapidly changing like that just isn't how people work without being obligated to. Especially when that change requires sacrifice. 
Because that's the unfortunate truth of this issue. Convenience comes at a cost. It's way more convenient to have products built out of chemicals that never degrade, or to be able to throw things out when you're done with them as opposed to cleaning them. It's more convenient to keep building more and more houses. It's more convenient to keep driving a gas car. Our world is built on convenience, and it doesn't feel like that's ever going to change. 
So where does that leave us? With the only person we know we can change. Ourselves.
I don't want to lie to you here. One person isn't going to make a difference here. But at the end of the day, would you rather be someone who's actively contributing to the problem, or do you want to be someone who does the little things to try and make it better? And hey, maybe if you choose to make positive changes, that might encourage the people around you to do so as well. And then they can inspire the people around them to do the same. I don't want to rant at you about doing this and not doing that, I feel like everyone is aware of what is and isn't harmful at this point. Just try to live the best life you can, for yourself, for the other wonderful animals we share our world with, and for the Earth itself.
If you find yourself engaging in individual-level lifestyle changes, and you're thinking, "This doesn't feel like it's accomplishing anything. I'm happy to be vegan, but I want to do more, some kind of change that I can actually see is working." Then, in that case, maybe take a more active approach, rather than a passive resistance approach. Engage in the field of law to change how things are allowed to happen. Engage in exposés to show the public how things are happening right now, that they wouldn't be okay with if they actually knew. Find ways to actively change the field of play. If you do, it could, hypothetically, have a tangible impact on all of the life that will ever exist in the universe, so that would be pretty important.
We all live on this wonderful amazing planet. And we'll be here for the next foreseeable future at least. Earth might be our mother, but we've grown up now. We're not babies anymore. We have to start being accountable for our own actions, and help around the house with the chores. You don't have to change your life in its entirety overnight, just keep the planet in mind sometimes.
Article written by Tarro (May 2024)
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