While these celebrations are commendable and help bring a focus to our troubled environment, we cannot solve most of our environmental problems until we humans dramatically change our relationship with Mother Earth.
Unfortunately most of us have been taught from a very young age that growth is good, be it the growth of the sizes of homes we live in or the growth of the stock market. We have used Earth's resources at an alarming rate to grow the human population on this planet.
In the natural world limitless growth is not possible. Some event always stops the exponential growth of a population.
The Earth has a carrying capacity, and we are on the verge of exceeding it. Estimates of our population say we will reach 10 billion people by the year 2050. Those 10 billion people cannot live the same lifestyles as we in the USA live today. There simply aren't enough resources on the planet to accomplish that endeavor.
We can learn a lot about sustainable living from nature. In nature all energy comes from the sun. Nature does not rely on ancient sunlight in the form of fossil fuels to power any processes.
Today, due to rising demands and tax incentives, solar energy has become more affordable and readily available to the middle class. Unfortunately our government continues to heavily subsidize fossil fuels, refusing to allow renewable energy to compete on a level playing field economically.
Unlike many humans who make it their lifelong goal to amass as many material possessions as possible, nature uses only what is needed and recycles everything. There are no landfills loaded with valuable materials. Creatures are born and die, leaving little behind except a hole in a tree, a grassy nest or a beaver dam. All matter in nature is recycled back to the Earth as nutrients.
Nature also demonstrates the danger in striving for uniformity in actions, ideals and beliefs. Diversity is the spice of life. Biodiversity allows an ecosystem to thrive as each species has its own unique niche and role to play.
It is the same with humans. Our diversity doesn't make us weaker but rather makes us stronger. We each bring our own unique personalities to the table of humanity.
At the turn of the century mankind embarked on a dangerous path, a path that led us away from our connection to the Earth and toward an ideology that we had to “beat nature into submission.”
We plowed the prairies; cut down the trees; extirpated species; extracted resources; and contaminated the water, air and land with toxic chemicals. We went inside our wooden walls and turned our backs on nature. We forgot we are a part of nature, not apart from nature.
This Earth Day should instead be a humanity day, a day to examine mankind's relationships with this planet. We should consider the consequences of each purchase we make.
This is no easy task. We all live busy lives and have become accustomed to a fast-paced, throw-away lifestyle. Consider adopting a new eco-consciousness for one day a week, then maybe two days a week. Who knows? Maybe it will become automatic to think about nature every day.
If we discovered a tiny species of mold on another planet, say Mars, it would be a major news event. Yet here we are living in the midst of billions of amazing species, and we cannot see the miracles around us every day. We cannot admit we humans are essentially killing our mother, our home, our world, ourselves.
It's past time to reconnect with the planet we live on. It is imperative. We cannot wait for our leaders to lead us. We need to engage in a new relationship with our Earth, a relationship that allows us all to live sustainably in peace and harmony with each other and with all the other species that inhabit this marvelous planet, Earth.
Published: April 20, 2017