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When One Death means the End of the World May 23, 2011

Posted by Nemuu in Stuff I Wride.
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The issue of our dying Earth has been talked about so many times over and over again that we’re practically sick of hearing about it. Although a relatively new phenomenon that began only in the late ‘90s, being born earlier in that decade only means that I grew up with it; it was a part of my childhood. As a kid, green living became ingrained in my young and impressionable mind as the right way to go. Like how you learned what was right and what was wrong when you were so very young: Patience, Integrity etc. etc. … those were the good guys. The bad guys had names like Stealing and Punching and yes, Pollution.

But for all the talking that’s been going on in the last 20 years, how much have we actually achieved? Forget about the steps and actions we have (or haven’t) taken. We’re heading straight to the basics: do we really know how much damage we’re inflicting on Mother Earth and what we really can do to stop her deteriorating health?

Paper versus computer: killing trees or polluting the air? (Think power stations and tonnes of coal-burning.) Would it be better to watch the news on television or read about it in the papers? Or perhaps read it online? Styrofoam that releases harmful gases into the air when broken or non-biodegradable plastic? Is anybody else about as confused as I am at this point? I mean, I know what’s bad – but which is worse?

And despite all the information that’s been passed down to us, how many are actually doing anything to help – on a daily basis rather than respecting Earth Hour once a year? So how much hope do we really have of saving the Earth anyway?

You might think this ridiculous, but because we’ve grown up hearing so much about how our planet is dying, most – if not all – of us have actually become largely desensitised without even realising it. “Hey, when I was a kid, the Earth was dying then, too. Now I’m almost an adult, but the Earth hasn’t died yet. By the time I’m old and wrinkled, I guarantee you: the Earth will still be ‘dying’.” Face it. We all think this way on a subconscious level. No one actually thinks this planet will be gone tomorrow – so a lot of people just brush it off as ‘The Future Generation’s Problem’.

Sure, some of us try not to waste paper; reuse, reduce, recycle. We switch off the lights when we leave the room. We turn on the fans instead of the air-conditioning. We do good things for the planet. But sometimes, we slip up too. You just unwrapped a sweet and you’ve looked everywhere around you but you can’t find a single dustbin anywhere to throw this measly, pathetic piece of wrapping. Most people wouldn’t think twice about littering – you can’t be expected to hold on to rubbish for hours till you find a bin. Can you? (I admit I sometimes have a nasty habit of pocketing my trash, but then I’ll forget to throw it away when I’m standing next to a bin.)

But Gaia’s failing health – can it possibly be slowed down, stopped and eventually reversed? Thanks to advances in medical research, we can now expect to live longer, fight off numerous disease-triggered deaths, experience higher infant mortality rates etc. etc. The land space needed to house these 6-billion-over people alone is going to require some massive killing of rainforests. And once they’ve found a place to stay, they’re going to need and use up electricity – watts and watts and kilowatts of it. Then, as quality of life improves, they’re going to want to drive around in fancy sports cars and increase their carbon footprint. Okay, I know I’m generalising, but surely everyone knows how the devil tempts.

Personally, I don’t really think we can go back to the old days of ‘green and sunshine’. So what if everyone took public buses? (Like that’s ever going to happen.) Buses pollute the air, too. Less pollution isn’t the same as no pollution. And we’re always going to need books and toilet paper. And light. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the computer and Internet and mobile phones and basically every single thing we have right now.

I’m not saying there’s no point in going green. I’m all for ‘saving the Earth’, but the people of today – we’re not doing nearly enough.