Who would have thought we would be celebrating Earth Day sheltered in place for a Pandemic? It would have been nearly unthinkable on that sunny April day in 1970 as we sat on the patio at my High School. Young and innocent, full of hope for our futures and that of Planet Earth.
Fast forward to today.
We see the undoing of many environmental regulations, the taking back of protected lands, loosening air and water quality requirements for industry, and climate change deniers. The forests are burning, clean water is becoming even more of a crisis globally, and garbage patches in the middle of every major ocean have no end in sight for their growth.
Yes, there have been many wins and things to celebrate. Smog is less in cities like Los Angeles, endangered species recovering from the brink thanks to dedicated individuals and organizations, and electric cars are hitting the roadways.
The Internet has connected the world in ways we could not have imagined in 1970. Both good and evil, The coin always has two sides. Who could have even dreamed of a President Tweeting his every thought multiple times a day?!
This Pandemic is the result of our Global Economy and our pressure on habitat. More humans on the planet than ever before in history and connected in all things. We can spread our thoughts, our products, and our infections worldwide in a matter of hours. As we exert more pressure on the wildlife and our domestic animals, living in every closer quarter with them, it was bound to happen. Could it be Nature biting back?
We don’t seem to form a cohesive vision for our world—one with the eye on the clean earth prize. Americans didn’t want to wash out their bottles and other trash items, so recycling has become an issue. China refused to keep taking our recyclables as it was just too dirty. We subsidize big oil, keep car companies afloat, and pay farmers. But we do little (or the minimum) to promote recycling, move toward renewable energy, and stop every growing appetite of Capitalism’s consumptive forces. Everything Salable seems to be the guiding thought.
Yes, we have done a lot here in the US, and yes, it has caused hardships for small businesses and property owners dealing with environmental regulations. You often have to ask for more that you want to get back to some balance. We can’t defund or trash things that help the rivers, streams, lakes, and air quality due to a few overreaching regulations. We are more sophisticated than that and can work on complex issues with complex solutions. Balanced solutions so man can live yet keep those who would take advantage for personal gain from destroying what we cannot replace.
But outside of the US, the world is fast being destroyed as we did in our time of industrialization. We export our chemicals that are not allowed to be in use here. (think DDT and the like…) The Amazon is already 1/5 smaller and in jeopardy due to the current politics in Brazil. Fish populations are down 90% globally due to overfishing, contamination, and the waters’ warming. Outside of the US, there are fewer regulations and controls on industry, and they like it that way. There are, of course, bright spots around the world with preserving and protecting things too.
We do have a growing issue here in the US. One of the Homeless. Not only is it a travesty on a human level, but it is a health issue as well. All that human waste is going into the creeks, streams, rivers, and ultimately, the ocean is not good for any of us!
I can’t think of a more challenging thing than putting together a consensus globally to care for our planet. With Climate Deniers, Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Theories, Trolls, and more flailing by the second online, how can we do so? We have reached a place with technology to map any person’s face and then re-animate them and put any words we want into their mouth. And the people will eat it up, spit it back out as truth to support their beliefs with no proof what so ever.
How did we get here? By being self-absorbed or overwhelmed with just trying to live. Or maybe a little of both…
The only way out is through!
We need compassion and caring more than ever. To stop playing the Us Against Them game. Fear is the controlling factor, and as long as it is used to keep us off balance and not work toward a One Planet Solution, we are doomed to what end?
But, I am an eternal optimist—a creative and idealist as well. If we can’t dream it, we can’t build it. It all starts with a thought, an idea. An Idea is hard to kill and can infect the world faster and longer than any virus. Why not infect all of us with positivity, compassion, and a vision for a clean planet. We can and must do it. It will be hard, long, and tumultuous. In the end, it is worth it. For you, your family, future generations, and quality of life for all.
Founder of The Light Foundry and The Trash Planet Project. Photography to create change. Images are in the process that will stick in people’s minds and make positive change.