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All One!

Last post, I wrote about how frustrated I am that we aren’t adequately addressing the environmental crises our planet is facing. But how do we do this? We need to take dramatic climate action this second, but we can’t just flip a switch and stop all greenhouse gas emissions immediately. The conclusion I tend to come back to is that we need to identify the root causes of our numerous sprouts of planetary destruction, and to address them in as holistic a way as possible.

If you had a fever, no appetite, and were throwing up, you would not treat all of these symptoms separately. Doing so might provide temporary relief, but you would be stuck indefinitely whacking the moles as they popped up unless you identified the underlying illness causing these ailments and found a way to heal that. I believe that one reason attempts to “save the earth” are largely ineffective is that they are attempts to ice the fever, instead of steps to procure and take the medicine.

In my opinion, one of these “bacteria” to fight is a disconnection from nature and lack of recognition of the interconnectedness of everything. We do bad things to the Earth because we don’t see ourselves as dependant on, a part of, and connected to it. We believe that our human technology can always trump natural systems, and as such will always protect and save us from any naturally caused harm. Only when we change this destructive worldview, reframing how we relate to the natural world and other living creatures, will we have a chance at a livable future.

“We are the environment, so whatever we do to air, water or soil, we do directly to ourselves. Once we recognize that, then it becomes unacceptable to use our surroundings as a dump for toxic chemicals.”
- David Suzuki

For the vast majority of human existence, limited technological capacities meant that our species was left to the whims of natural forces - our ancestors were bound, physically and spiritually, to their surroundings. For example, people could only live near a water source and good soil. For the most part, they saw nature as a web of which they were a part, and so did their best to live in a way finely attuned to keeping their ecosystem intact.

Over the last few centuries, though, our technological innovations, while providing many benefits for human health and happiness, have also fooled us into thinking that we can exist independent of the Earth. Nature has become something that either exists for our benefit or must be conquered into submission, as opposed to a delicate balance of abundance to be shared, protected, and grateful for. 

A small yet visible example of this is when someone wears a t-shirt inside during the winter. To dress in a way not considerate of the outside weather is to expect indoor areas, in which we spend practically all of our time, to always be uniformly climate controlled, regardless of the natural cycle of the seasons. This manifestation of the “bacteria” of disconnection with nature and reliance on technology results in a symptom of increased heating emissions. Donning an insulating sweater and turning down your thermostat just 2 degrees could save 598 lbs of CO2 - but more than that, it would be a symbolic step towards a world view acknowledging that we cannot and should not manipulate natural systems to fit our fancy.

An example of a more significant symptom is the Cape Town water crisis. Due to unusually low amounts of rainfall resulting in reservoirs far below normal levels, Cape Town is anticipated to become the first major city to run out of water. Starting on “Day Zero”, which has been predicted for April 12, running water will be shut off and citizens will have to line up daily to collect an allotted 25 L of water from army-protected collection points. 

Unsurprisingly, this disastrous situation was caused by an unprecedented drought and changing rainfall patterns, partly a result of good ol’ global warming. To prevent Cape Town from becoming the new norm, we must accept the fact that a) disturbing the balance of natural systems, such as by burning ancient, buried life and thus changing the composition of the atmosphere, will have repercussions for all life on Earth (including humans) and b) human ingenuity cannot develop technology to fix these problems, namely producing rainfall or preventing the atmosphere from trapping increasing amounts of heat (without serious negative consequences).  

One analogy I like to consider as I’m biking to school is that of hills. As fun as going down a hill is, I always know that the temporary free ride will also mean a tough uphill later along. It is a physical law that every downhill will be equally matched by an uphill. Through the abuse of all other life forms on Earth, ranging from the alive to the fossilized, we’ve temporarily artificially extended the down hill cruise and have tricked ourselves into believing that the days of strenuous pedalling are behind us. This is impossible, though. Our delayed consequences are beginning to catch up with us in the form of resource scarcity, polluted air, water, and land, and the climate crisis; we’re facing an uphill like never before.

We are totally dependant on the earth for life. Our technology can not and will not create a bubble rendering us unaffected by the workings of our biosphere and atmosphere. Our food production, clean water, safe air - these are things that we are wholly dependant on for life. These are things that come directly from the Earth. These are things that are wearth saving. 

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Apologies for the extremely long posting hiatus. I plan on posting more regularly in the coming months. To stay updated when new posts come out, please subscribe to this blog or follow my new Facebook page, @wearthsaving! The latter might also feature timely and helpful action alerts.

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