Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and since this blog is dedicated to all those things which are good to do in and of themselves, and since Earth Day is one of those days-for-a-cause in the year which I very much believe is worthwhile, I thought I would mark the day with a small post.

Earth Day doesn't need much explanation.  I think that this day serves as a good reminder each year to pause our hectic lives and think about something that perhaps we don't think about as often as we should.  We all know, unless some people are very skilled at ignoring the news, that the Earth's climate is changing in ways that could drastically affect the food chain that our species and many others depend on to survive.  We also know that human activity has caused many extinctions, many changes in landscape and ecosystem, and is contributing to the change in climate.  It is good for us, as consumers of resources, to stop and remember that the Earth isn't like a car or a pair of shoes; you don't get a new one when the old one doesn't work anymore.  We tend to forget that when it comes to our use of the Earth or even the environment immediately surrounding us, what's done is done and rarely, if ever, can we undo the damage we cause.  There are great examples of this all over the world.  The Ganges river in India will never be clean again, the Galapagos turtles will never return to existence once Lonely George, the last Galapagos turtle, dies, and the tiny shards of plastic floating in the ocean interfering with the phytoplankton will never be scooped away.   I see the word 'never' and wonder if it's too strong, but realise that I believe what I'm writing to be true and simultaneously would love nothing more than to discover it is false.

On Earth Day, we should get a little sad, a little worried, and a little more aware of what we're doing to the planet we live on.  To take the Earth for granted and continue to use it unreflectively will only hurt the life that makes this planet so unique, and that includes our own species.

A final point of interest, worth mentioning today:  the newly-awarded contract to build a huge dam, called the Belo Monte, on the Xingu river in Brazil.  It will flood over 100, 000 acres of jungle, which means (due to the mind-blowing diversity in Brazil's jungles) the extinction of uncountable numbers of species, and will displace approximately 40, 000 indigenous people.  On top of that, experts say that the dam will be too inefficient to be worth the enormous cost of building it, and in fact two early bidders for the contract left the table for this reason.

Worthless destruction in the name of advancement, right in front of our eyes.

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