Unless you were living in a hole like a cute little groundhog then you would know this past Friday was earth day. The one day a year where everyone talks about how much they love nature and environmental and animal rights advocates begin posting every five minutes because it can’t possibly be overload on earth day. For one day a year we take notice of the earth around us and for the other 364, we contribute to its destruction by our everyday choices. I don’t think any of us realize that at least five times a day we have the opportunity to make a choice that could heal our earth or hurt it further. Every meal we eat, every trip we take, every single action of consumption contributes. We are a rapidly growing society, constantly ravaging for more and more; more space more food more luxury. I’m not saying that we halt population growth, I’m not saying that we leave behind the digital age and return to the time of hunter-gatherers to better take care of our earth. What I am saying is that we use the brains and technology that humans so pride ourselves on and put it to good use. Aren’t we supposed to be more intelligent than any other creature on earth? Aren’t we supposed to have morals and values and a brain to which apply them with? Then why do we sit back and watch our home be destroyed simply for our idea of luxury? It is an issue of truly becoming informed on how the way we live is hurting our planet.
Take air pollution, for example, the leading cause of carbon dioxide production is the cars we drive, which we see as a measure of luxury and convenience. An even more deadly gas to our atmosphere is methane, a greenhouse gas produced from the waste of animals in the animal agriculture industry. As more and more countries leave substance farming behind for urban living (take for example China) they demand more animal products as a sign of luxury. Dr. Richard Oppenlander states that if we were to take out the energy sector entirely, we would still exceed our maximum greenhouse gas emissions in only fourteen years simply due to the methane in the animal agriculture industry. FOURTEEN YEARS. No longer is the destruction of our planet an issue for future generations to worry about. It’s us. It is the choices this generation makes today that will save our earth or destroy it. We are that generation and it is entirely up to us. The earth’s top defense against air pollution is it’s rain forests which take in the carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen and Brazilian rainforests are being torn down AN ACRE PER SECOND so that we can expand and use it’s resources for our greedy consumption. It is the choices we make in how we consume and what we consume that are destroying our atmosphere, we are thwarting the earth’s best efforts to protect us by choosing to use fossil fuels rather than more sustainable energy and by polluting our air.
Tackle ocean pollution next, yes we have all seen the cute little ducks and seals in the Dawn commercials and we blame those big corporations and their oil spills. For one, oil production is nowhere near slowing down and as we search for more and more fuel we are wasting tremendous amounts of energy and that could be used to help those in poverty. It’s not just oil that’s polluting our oceans, it’s us. First, by supporting these industries and their methods of fuel extraction but also by the waste we leave on our beaches. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines an oceanic “dead zone” as an area of the ocean where oxygen is lacking so much that animals simply cannot survive and most die off or are forced to leave. This is caused directly by human pollution such as runoff from animal waste in factory farms and pesticides from crop raising. The second largest dead zone in the world is in the United States Gulf of Mexico. You may not feel like you are directly harming the environment but your choices might be, clearly the way the United States population consumes is affecting the environment.
What we don’t realize is that we are stripping the earth of its biodiversity. We tear down our forests and pollute our oceans without any thought of the little critters that we are crushing in our wake simply because they are just that, little. Experts say that every day we are losing up to 100 species of plants and animals in our rain forests alone due to deforestation. You might ask what the importance of a few fancy flowers and insects are. They are after all so little and insignificant. Entirely wrong, we fail to realize that every single animal and plant is part of a delicate balance in the earth and as more and more species go extinct we are tearing down our food webs and leaving entire ecosystems desolate and with missing links. This process is a never ending chain of destruction. One species may seem insignificant but that leads to the collapse of three others and so forth.
“We tend to see ourselves as individuals in a bubble and forget that we inhabit this land and this earth with other creatures, so we have to learn how to share more, I guess”-Kip Andersen
If you can’t do it for the earth itself then considering how your actions are harming humans worldwide. Climate change and sustainability are major issues and there are entire countries suffering from rising temperatures and flooding because of rising sea levels. There are riots because of lack of food. We pride ourselves upon the creation of GMOs and how they’re helping world hunger but I can’t help but question how much of that food is actually making it to these impoverished countries and how much of the technology is remaining in America to simply make larger and more visually appealing crops. Our earth has already given us so much and it fights to protect us every day and yet we still ask it for more and in our greed we destroy it. It is simply an issue of being mindful and informed, of realizing that you as an individual share this earth with other humans and other animals and they might be suffering because of your choices. I think often times as humans we shy away from what we know is true. We avoid videos and articles about global warming and animal agriculture because we know we will feel horrified and guilty and no one likes those feelings but please I urge you to be informed. Be aware of what you’re buying and how you’re consuming because it is the choices we make every day that count. Be aware and take action, treat the earth with love and gentle care because that is all it has ever given to us.