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Saving the Planet – from whom?

As a baby boomer I am sure you will remember David Suzuki.  He still makes appearances on tv prophesying doom if we don’t start behaving ourselves.  He has plenty of people who want to join him in his messages of warning, danger and disaster.  And he has plenty of businesses who just love what he says because they can make money on the back of his doomy, gloomy messages.

They can sell us “green” electricity at a higher cost, they can sell trees to each other as carbon offsets – and get a tax reduction.  They can put less in our washing powder, and charge more.  What a gift this scaremongering is to the world economy and to the fortune 500 companies.  What a fabulous set of arguments and rationales we all have now to use against each other in any way we choose – to support or refute almost anything we want to do – as a nation, as a city, as an individual.

Anyway, back to David Suzuki.  Do you remember when overpopulation was the “in” thing to worry about?  When I was doing my teacher training a group of us did a project on overpopulation – we made a giant freestanding screen with pictures of starvation and crops and children and dying and cracked earth and birth control pill packets.  At the end of our presentation, we stood behind that screen and threw jelly babies at the audience whilst chanting – “overpopulation is your third baby”.  Well, that was forty years ago.  As I recall, we should all be dying of thirst and hunger and living in a society reminiscent of Clockwork Orange – because of course our population has kept right on growing.

Look around though.  It’s not happening.  In fact, it seems to me that the earth as a whole is pretty much the same as it was then.  In forty years we have lost some battles and won some battles, but the balance is pretty much the same.  Some nations are starving, some are prospering.  Some people are getting an education, some are not.  Some people get health care, some do not.  Some people lose their houses, some do not.  Things have changed, but they have pretty much stayed the same.

So, am I saying that we should consume and pollute without care or consequence? No.  I am saying that we should reframe the discussion.  Humans will always do exactly what they want.  They will always find a way to get what they want, eat what they want, watch what they want.  No matter what the law makers decree we humans will always find a way to do it our way.

I think the problem here is not the pollution of our planet.  We’ve had global warming before, and we’ve had global cooling before – thank heavens too because if the dinosaurs weren’t buried we wouldn’t have those fossil fuels to burn – oh wait! Then we wouldn’t have this problem …… ! (And by the way, who was burning the fossil fuels that caused global warming the last time?)

No, if this planet is dying, I think it is dying of a broken heart.  It is dying for lack of love, lack of appreciation, lack of care.  Do you think that’s ridiculous?  Ah!  Is that because you think the earth is inanimate?  That it is an object for us to impose our will upon?  That we can carve it up, dig it up, burn it up, as we chose?  Perhaps we think that because the earth is so big and it takes such a long time for things to take effect that ultimately there is no effect.  But bring it back to human terms – how many times can you hurt someone who loves you, before you exhaust their love?  A lot, but …. .

The earth love us, it gives and gives and gives.  It is time for us to love back.  To show respect, to show appreciation, to tune in, to cherish.  And as we cherish, we will clean up – not to save the planet, but to save ourselves.  To fill the empty space that no amount of clothing, money, toys, sex, fame, drugs, food, relationships or wars will fill.

Is there anyone who wants to breathe polluted air, die of thirst, die of a disease or a war?  Live in ignorance?  Live in slavery?  Does anyone want that for anyone else?  Of course not.  Given a chance we would all change that – for ourselves and for everyone around us.  I suppose that is what the lawmakers and legislators are trying to do.  I suppose they are trying to force everyone to do the right thing.  The trouble is, none of us really know what the right thing is?  Or do we?  I think we do.  Pouring oil into a river, throwing plastic bags into the sea – we know that’s not the thing to do. We do it out of lack of respect, lack of love.  So to my mind, the discussion should be not how to stop polluting the planet, but how to cherish it.

So yes, go “green” by all means – but do it because you are inspired by love, not fear. Do it out of respect for yourself, out of respect for this gift of life.  We were designed to live in the Garden of Eden, not on a rubbish dump.

And lastly, there’s chocolate.

“Save the earth, it’s the only planet with chocolate.”

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