You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From our there on the moon, international politics looks so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch. – Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut.
The earth is warming at an unprecedented pace. This is inarguable.
Sea levels are rising leading to an increase in coastal flooding.
Climate models project increased drought in the American Southwest
Weather is becoming more extreme.
The seasons are shifting.
Air pollution is increasing.
Animals are dying and some will go extinct.
We are on a path where these things will continue and intensify.
And while many mobilize to halt these realities – to develop machines that will suck CO2 from the air, save the polar bears, protect the Great Barrier Reef –I believe these efforts are only a part of the real task before us.
We do not need to save the planet.
Mother Earth is resilient. Her temperatures have warmed and cooled dramatically over the 4.5 billion years of her existence. With these shifts, she has survived 5 mass extinctions – one during which 96 percent of all species were lost. And after each of these “great dyings,” a more evolved species arose to multiply, swim and walk.
Now, the planet in all her volatility is asking us to take a bigger view. As cities disappear, as famines spread, as the poor die, she’s shaking us to realize what is truly at stake. If we don’t, if we continue with our perceived separateness, our worship of the material, the planet will speak louder and louder.
Our work is to save humanity.
Unlike any species before us, we will be the cause of our own extinction, and the reason will not be because of cars, coal or meat, it will be because we couldn’t love.
Yes, recycling is good and composting and driving a Prius, but if engaging in these acts fills you with a sense of superiority, if they create more division in your doing, being and thinking, if you scoff in disgust with every passing Hummer, you may as well be driving one as well.
What the planet is asking, what it requires, is that we come together. We must feel our hearts and trust in a shared belief of the goodness of the human race.
To survive, we must evolve.
This Earth Day, I’m not going on a hike or planting a tree, I’m asking who can I acknowledge that I might otherwise ignore? Where can I reach out? I’m looking for the walls within myself that are perpetuating the divisions I see in society. How can these walls come down? How can I better feel my heart and connect in confidence from this place? I believe this is truly what is needed to “save the planet.”