Field of Science

Everyday should be Earth Day

The Phactor remembers the first Earth Day in 1970; he was a senior in college and that does date him even if he was a bit precocious. Unfortunately it did not receive as much attention that year as it should have because there were so many distractions that revolved around anti-war protests (Vietnam), trying to graduate, and thinking seriously about a long-time girl friend.
In trying to think of something profound to say, I find myself simply saddened by the state of the Earth. The whole panoply of environmental issues always ends up being argued from a political perspective, but the ecological perspective is quite clear. Our species has exceeded the carrying capacity of our environment. Humans began the path to the present day when they stopped living as gatherers and hunters and shifted to making a living via agriculture. This is not an indictment, just history.
My own particular role in this has been the simple, but not always easy task of helping students understand how nature works and the place of humans in all of this, so that they may use that knowledge to make wise decisions. Of course the flaw in that is the assumption that knowing something is important to making decisions, which often has not been the case in politics. When ideology trumps knowledge it all goes out the window.

A great deal of the Earth’s natural communities have been altered, damaged, or destroyed, but there still remains a resilience that gives the Phactor some hope if we can abate the rate of destruction. Unfortunately so many people are so estranged from nature, from their food and resources, it creates an ignorance or indifference to the natural order of things. People just don’t know, care, or understand what living their lives is doing, insulated as they are by human technology. In the words of Porky Pine penned for Earth Day by the great Walt Kelly, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Being ethical demands that our actions not harm others, and that principle must be extended to actions that do not unduly harm the ability of our environment to sustain us. So be mindful of the full impact we make, both on our own personal little hummock, and elsewhere, and try to help others know why it’s important to have a "green" ethic, otherwise you become an enemy of people.
PS Many people attribute that quote to Pogo because of an Earth Day poster made by Kelly a year later, but he didn't say it in the original cartoon.

1 comment:

Larissa said...

I couldn't agree more. Great post!