Earth Needs Our Attention for a Year or Decade, Not an Hour or Day

By William J. Furney

We had an hour, in March and then, this week, a day. To save an imperiled planet that so far is our only home in the universe. Can we, the people of the world, make a bigger effort, or are we just not bothered? 

The list of Earth-ills is long and alarming: rapid deforestation and depletion of natural resources, worsening air and water pollution, global warming and melting ice caps from burning fossil fuels, plastic pollution, biodiversity loss and food waste. If our planet was a business, it would have been run into the ground long ago. 

Raping, destroying humans give locusts a bad name. No wonder we’re desperate to find somewhere else to live; we’ve made a mess of our own home. It would likely be the same tragic tale should we end up on Mars, having jettisoned no-longer-viable Earth. And from there, hopping from one planet to another as we continue our celestial train-wreck of turning pristine worlds into unwanted junk yards. 

“Our world needs transformational change,” says organiser “It’s time for the world to hold sectors accountable for their role in our environmental crisis while also calling for bold, creative and innovative solutions. This will require action at all levels, from business and investment to city and national government.”

And right down to each of the more than 7.6 billion living on Earth today. “As an individual, you yield real power and influence as a consumer, a voter and a member of a community that can unite for change.

“Don’t underestimate your power. When your voice and your actions are united with thousands or millions of others around the world, we create a movement that is inclusive, impactful and impossible to ignore.” 

Not everyone wants to know, but public support for decisive action to tackle climate change and its sources is growing. A poll conducted in February in the United States — the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China, and followed by India — shows that the majority of Americans are concerned about the effects of climate change, with 60% agreeing that it’s “already having a serious impact” and an almost equal number (58%) believing that recent bad weather was “more evidence of climate change”. The majority (52%) had a favorable view of politicians who support action on climate change. 

They will be pleased that President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement in February, after blustering Trump ditched the international climate change accord, saying its emissions-slashing measures would harm the nation’s economy, and the new American leader saying climate change was among his top priorities. Biden has gone further, vowing at an international climate meeting this week to cut the US’ emissions by half by the end of this decade. 

Annoying environmental activist Greta Thunberg popped up like a demented Swedish mole to mark Earth Day on Thursday, lecturing American politicians over fossil fuel subsidies with her trademark smug-scowl. “I don’t believe for a second that you will actually do this,” the 18-year-old brazenly told them, in a video appearance before the environmental subcommittee of the US House Committee on Oversight and Reform. 

(And if you thought you’d had enough of who Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, called a “brat”, you’re in for way more — hysteria-driven news media were this week wetting themselves when the school-striking youngster changed her Twitter description to “bunny hugger”, symbolising how vacuous the media often is; and the Asperger’s-suffering teen is starring in a docuseries, Greta Thunberg: A Year to Change the World.)

“In a perfect world, there wouldn’t need to be a climate activist, but unfortunately, there will probably still be a need for climate activists for quite some time,” the environmental crusader told the Associated Press news agency this week. “I think I will be doing this for as long as there is a need for people to do this.” (Collective groan.)

If you toned it down a bit, and actually smiled, instead of hectoring and thinking you know it all, you might win more friends and allies, Greta.

A colleague (who, like me — and Greta — is vegan) related to me this week how a friend was going on, in a Facebook environment group, about how she does as much to be as environmentally conscious as possible but that she’s “not ready” to give up meat and dairy — two of the main causes of environmental destruction and greenhouse-gas emissions. 

It’s the same with the many who declare they “love animals” — so much so that they continually feast on creatures, blithely obviously to the inherent hypocrisy. 

Another colleague, a vegetarian, said he was recently at a barbeque with friends (in England, now that covid restrictions on mixing with family and friends have been relaxed) and his meat-chomping pals asked if he was “missing out” by eating pea-based burgers instead of the muscle-and-blood variety. I had to ask, “What, exactly, did they think you were missing out on — death and destruction, to animals, humans and the planet?” All for a taste that’s gone in seconds?

Men, in particular, and especially those of the fragile-ego variety, think they can only be masculine if they stuff themselves with dead animals; they think salads and plant-based foods are for febrile wimps. They also think they know it all, while ignoring the facts that meat kills everything, including the people who eat it — and we’re in this pandemic that has killed 3.1 million people so far precisely because of meat — in their desperate Neanderthal quest that’s the ultimate reality-slayer. 

Where do these ditzy He-Men think cattle get their protein to make into muscle? (Grass, a plant.)

What you put in your mouth has a direct impact on the world around you, and as my pea-burger-eating colleague predicted, generations from now, we will be looked upon as primitive for our destructive dietary choices. 

Are we so desperate for environmentally harmful meat that we will wreck the world for future generations?

As a species, we need constant reminders of the catastrophes we are causing, to ourselves, animals and our environment — an Earth Year or Decade. So we can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything’s alright. 

  • Title image shows the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean and was taken by a crew member aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

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