3 things you can do on Earth Day and beyond
As we observe Earth Day, we are on a track towards unsustainable development.
Human population steadily grows. In the name of economic growth, finite resources are exploited as if they are unlimited. Nature is under assault.
Normally, nature can heal itself. However, giant firms have put excessive strain on our planet.
Think of the footprints of Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters; oil spills; deforestation; mining to extract minerals to produce your next gadgets; agribusiness; factories; shopping malls; human settlements encroaching into farmlands and wilderness, for which reason people start seeing wildlife in their backyards; and, run-down neighborhoods in cities being converted into condominiums, into which the rich and young urban professionals are moving, displacing the poor.
There are at least 3 things people can do on Earth Day and beyond to contribute to sustainable development.
Stand up for structural economic change
Using less water and energy by yourself is necessary but not sufficient, if the status quo of competition, profit, and greed-oriented economic system which exploits natural and human resources, leading to an anarchy of production and waste remains the same.
Pope Francis, economist Thomas Piketty, and social activist Naomi Klein criticize the current unsustainable economic model based on greed and exploitation, where the few rich get richer, while the majority poor stay poor. The world’s 80 richest owns the same wealth as the world’s poorest 50% (of about 3.5 billion people), which is insane.
The unjust inequality gap worsens globally, as capital returns exceed the economic growth rate, Piketty stresses. Not just pointing her fingers at corporations, Klein stressed that the economic model is the main culprit in the destruction of nature. Discontent and social upheavals are brewing globally, demanding a new just economic order.
In the spirit of global solidarity, work for a new economic system focused on compassion, cooperation, collaboration, caring for all living and non-living things, and sharing. As a global society, we need to set our priorities right. Put nature and people first, not greed and profit. For Piketty, the solution is global progressive tax.
In opposition to the growth model that destroys nature, there is now a de-growth movement, focusing on ensuring the availability of food, environmental protection, and social justice.
Make a stand on population
Many have criticized China’s one-child policy. Can you imagine if in one generation alone, each Chinese couple had two children? There is wisdom in a one-child policy, especially as there are now exceptions to the rule.
Considering your impact on nature, plan wisely how many children you will have. There are many orphans needing a family. Adopt a child, self-impose a one-or-few-children “policy,” or both.
Think of your family’s place in the widening class and inequality divide. More people decide neither to get married nor to have their own biological children, but maybe have adoptive children.
These emerging trends are positive insofar as putting less human pressure on nature is concerned. But we need to get more people on board not to have many children. Men and women must take the responsibility of ensuring not having accidental or unwanted children, as at the end of the day everyone suffers, including our planet.
Protect nature in every way
All firms must be held accountable for their environmental impact.
If you really want a pet, just have one. Think of your pet’s water, food, vaccination, mess, waste, and carbon footprint.
Use everything that is energy-saving. Stick solar lamps by your home’s entrance. Use crank or solar-powered flashlight, radio, lamp, and USB charger. Use motion-sensitive lights on hallways. Use rechargeable batteries.
Invest in a stainless-steel lunchbox. Bring your own food to school, work, or leisure. You will personally put less strain on nature, as you will contribute to less waste and garbage. You know you will eat healthy food, as you will not add unnecessary chemicals that processed fast food contain.
If you are going to the corner store, you will be healthier walking or biking to your destination. If you travel alone, take public transportation, such as bus or jeepney. If you worry about air pollutants, take an air-conditioned bus or utility vehicle (UV). Use a private car, only if there will be many passengers (don’t count the chauffeur).
In addition, the government must invest in more frequent and longer city trains, as mass transit is efficient in energy use.
By doing all these, you are already reducing your carbon footprint by leaps and bounds.
As Klein puts it, the climate crisis is “a civilizational wake-up call.”
Let us restore the harmony among people, nature, and the economy. If these can all coexist harmoniously towards sustainable development, then humanity will have a chance to survive on Earth. (READ: #EarthForKids: 3 ways to share your Earth Day ideas) - Rappler.com
Rey Ty is a political observer, author, and lecturer. He received his doctorate from Northern Illinois University and Master’s degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and Northern Illinois University.
Mother and daughter planting vegetable garden from Shutterstock