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Environmental conscience
by Asa Butcher
2008-04-22 08:10:30
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Today is Earth Day. I doubt you have anything special planned. There'll be no joyous parades through our towns, there'll be no flags flying and the kids will still have to go to school, so what's the big deal? Earth Day is supposed to make us stop for a moment and inspire awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment… well, I don't know about you, but I appreciate the Earth's environment every day - if pushed, I would have to say this is my favourite planet.

earthday2005 Okay, it is the only planet I have visited, but it is still pretty spectacular when you think about it. Whether you believe it was made in a mere six days or six billion years makes no difference because it is the only one we have and we should treat her with the respect she, not only deserves, but also demands. Don't worry, I am not about to launch into a monologue preaching about climate change because it doesn't make a difference to the way I feel.

Let's say that there is no such thing as climate change, let's say that environmentalists, scientists and Al Gore have got it all wrong and that our planet is made of sturdier stuff than they give her credit. Where is the problem in acting responsibly and pretending she is in mortal danger from our actions, or is that inactions? Why not recycle? Why not put that cigarette butt or sweet wrapper in the bin? Why not turn off lights that are not in use? Why fix that leaky tap?

I don't understand people that stand there, hands upon their hips, arrogantly defending their laziness not to treat Earth better. You must have heard them, "Well, that company dumps that in the sea, so why should I recycle glass bottles!" and so on, but that's not the point. The point is we have the ability to recycle glass, so why not do so? If the local council has provided recycling facilities either on your doorstep or in your neighbourhood then use them.

When you finish that final swig of lager and are about to drop the bottle among the normal rubbish you know deep down that you shouldn't. Each of us knows what constitutes good and bad behaviour towards the environment and we have heard enough over the last few years to know that companies are also following suit - usually because their employees and customers demand it. It actually makes your conscience feel good when you separate the cardboard from the milk cartons… it really does.

While in the UK recently I was amazed to find you couldn't recycle certain cartons because they have a particular coating on them, yet you can recycle all cartons in Finland. It only takes a few customers to complain or even pop a suggestion in the supermarket's suggestion box for change to begin… you'd be surprised at the power of the individual.

Take the supermarket carrier bag, which has been Enemy #1 of the environment for many years. All supermarkets have to do is stop offering the free non-biodegradable bags at the checkout and only sell biodegradable carrier bags for customers to begin using 'bags for life' or finding alternatives - customers are an uncanny bunch of spendthrifts that will adapt to price changes. Come on supermarkets, it is time to bin the non-biodegradable bags.

It is up to the public to do what we feel is right for the environment, not because the world might be dying and our kids will be left to clear up the mess, but because it is the right thing to do and the facilities are within our reach. Think about it - turning off a light saves you money, as does walking to the shop instead of driving… it doesn't have to be all climate change and doom, it can be saving a few extra pennies, which we all love to do.

Earth Day may seem too little too late, but don't count on it because I think the Earth is remarkably resilient or it would never have let us get this far.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-04-22 12:49:07
Of course, in the nihilistic brave new world in which we live and have our being, the question arises: why would we want to preserve the earth aside from a legitimate interest in the preservation of our species? Such a question is unfortunately not aske and not even understoo nowadays and that is the root problem of the ecological crisis in which we find ourselves. Nietzsche prohezized that the New Man would fix everything. That was echoed by Marcuse's New Man. Not to throw cold water on the whole project of the The New Man but he has come and gone and as C.S. Lewis has aptly put it, he has been found wanting: he is the Man without chest who speaks bravely but acts pusillanimously. But hope springs anew and one must have "hope in the future" which in Hebrew is the word for faith.

Emanuel Paparella2008-04-22 12:52:14
Errata above: aske = asked, understoo = understood, prophezize = prophesized.

Clint2008-04-23 00:14:44
In my nihilistic world not all of our species would be preserved!!

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