Sunday, August 24, 2014

Will We Destroy the Place We Call Home?

The waste dump, a result of unbridled consumerism
 (Photo Credit: Shutterstock; Copyright: Public Domain)
An uninhabitable earth at some point in our future is not an unreasonable thought. Years of disregard for mother earth can cause components of the earth system to change. Consequently, humankind should not shrug off warnings of cataclysmic environmental transformations.

And, for those who think that climate change warnings are just hullabaloo and pooh-pooh the idea of an impending catastrophe, I have one question, what if you’re wrong? What harm can come from taking meaningful action now rather than wait until it’s too late.

That’s why events such as the Climate Summit 2014 are important. The summit’s purpose is to drum up enough political will for meaningful legal agreements on climate change by 2015.

And, that’s why the People’s Climate March on September 21 in support of the summit is also important. The march’s purpose is to demand the world’s leaders not to substitute words for action, but to take action now.

The other day, I was watching the movie “Wall-E” with my grandson. In the movie, by the year 2105 planet earth was no longer habitable. Disregard for mother earth had caused massive changes in weather patterns, failures in earth's ecosystem, and the air became too toxic to sustain life. Earth's inhabitants abandoned her, leaving in luxury starliners to roam deep space for eternity.

What created earth’s demise in “Wall-E” was unbridled consumerism. It’s a portrait of our very same consumer-driven economy, one that creates an “endless demand for more things,” a system that promotes debt, destruction, and waste for the sake of profit over the wellbeing of people.

The impact of human pollution on the inner workings of earth's delicate and complex system may be debatable short-term. But without regulatory protections and changes in human behavior, a time will come when planet earth may no longer be habitable. It’s not something, once it happens, that can be retroactively corrected by congressional action. It's an issue that must be dealt with proactively by all of us.

There is no doubt, without a change in thinking about air pollution, consumerism, how we dispose of waste, and other factors affecting the environment, our world might someday be in the same predicament as portrayed in “Wall-E.” Perhaps not by 2105, but at some point, if action is not taken to reverse the trend, we will have destroyed the place we call home.

(A version of this article was first published on the Yahoo Contributors Network on August 2, 2011)

Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green