Earth Day Is Every Day; or "The Planet Will Be Fine, It’s Our Own Butts We‘re Trying To Save!”
For forty years now, we’ve been celebrating Earth Day, and a lot has improved. Our cars and factories, our power stations and homes- at least in the US- are cleaner, our air is less polluted with sulphur dioxide and nitrous dioxide, diesel emissions are cleaner, waterways better off, and the Bald Eagle and Grey wolf are recovering. The problems we face, however, have shifted, from local large points of pollution to global issues of climate change, ozone depletion, water scarcity, species and habitat loss, deforestation, and so on that seem to come not from one source, but billions. There has never been a greater need for the kind of collaborative, cross sector, community action across the globe than there is today.
Besides, it’s not about saving the Earth- can we get that clear? Earth Day should be called People Day, or All God’s Creatures Great and Small Day, or something that drives home the real goals here. The planet will do fine with or without us, until the sun turns supernova in a few billion years and it all becomes cosmic toast anyway. But in the meantime, we can enjoy billions of years of pretty sweet life here on the third rock from the Sun, so long as we get our act in order, and live within the laws of Nature.
We point out in our book, The Necessary Revolution that the economy depends on society to work, and our societies local and global, depend on a healthy ecosystem to work. Weaken the ecosystem, and it’s like cutting the threads of a hammock one by one until our posterior hits the ground. The bad news is that’s what we are doing right now- billions of individual actors across the globe contributing a little bit to weakening the fabric of life that supports us all.
But the good news is, individual action multiplied can also turn it around- the true meaning of revolution. Which is why on this Earth Day, we could consider the power of people to preserve the planet. If our environmental problems are the proverbial “death by 1000 cuts”, then the solution is billions of points of healing. Each of us can make a difference by simply taking small actions in the right direction. If you recycle a single can, it saved enough energy to power 100 watt bulb for 20 hours- If everyone did it would save enough to power millions of homes. Every scrap of material that is recaptured and reused is one more ounce, one more pound that doesn’t have to be made for virgin ore or oil, fresh trees or water. And pretty soon the pounds add up to tons and tons.
There are more ants on the planet in total tonnage than humans. But ants aren’t creating an environmental problem- in fact; they make the system healthier in most cases. Can we be as smart as ants, as useful? This Earth Day, let’s foment a People’s Revolution- one person, one day, one act at a time.