Environment Page

We are a part of our environment and we depend upon it for our health and survival.

Plants are as vital to our breath as our lungs are, the ecosystem which provides us with clean water is an integral part of the system of life within us. We are one, there is no seperation between us and the ecological system we inhabit. We need to start treating our world this way.

We are an intelligent species, we can reason, imagine, we can make choices and follow many different paths with our actions in the world. There is no reason we intrinsically need to cause environmental destruction. As individuals we have free will, we can change, be more thoughtful, cautious, helpful and compassionate. Many people are personal examples of this potential, that another kind of humanity is possible.

In order to co-exist sustainably with the environment, we have to change, there is no avoiding this. Habits have to change, attitudes have to change, we need to start thinking on a deeper level about the ramifications of our actions. We need to reconnect with the greater world that we have forgotten we are a part of, and reflect that unity in our actions. You have to change.

There are many examples of how our choices in lifestyles have disconnected us from the world around us, the car is an obvious one. It is often less effort to drive a car somewhere than take alternative forms of transport, we like our mobile compartments, moving about the world but seperate from it and we perceive that cars play a part in our social status. Driving a car is seen in our society as a positive thing rather than an ethical statement. But how true is this?

Cars pump lethal gases into the atmosphere, gases so lethal they are used as a method of suicide. The side effects of our dependence on the car not only find their way to your waistline and increase your chances of heart disease, they seep into other peoples lungs and they are dying from it. Despite what government advertising focuses on, more people are now dying from the effects of pollution than from car accidents or drink driving. The same car related pollution is one of the main contributors to global warming, a problem so vast in its potential affects on the world it is difficult to comprehend. Car accidents themselves kill only slightly less people than war and suicide combined. Often overlooked is what the car does to the plants and animals we co-exist with, just the number of native animals killed on our roads every year is in the millions. The numbers, of all animals including humans, killed from the side effects of pollution every year is harder to quantify but no doubt more. Cars themselves are just another consumer good, constantly being upgraded and thrown away, costing all sorts of often toxic resources to construct. I could go on about the cars contribution to obesity, our cities sprawling, our culture becoming more one of isolation and other things, but I think the point is made.

Cars when utilised as they currently are, have many negative effects on our society, and few positive. Even a lot of their positive aspects like allowing us to take more convenient holidays are trivial. For someone who wishes to live in a healthier, environmentally attuned society, minimising our usage of them is an obvious choice.

It is also obvious that we don't even need to use them as much as we do, putting aside for the moment the hundred thousand years before their invention in which we managed to create human civilization without them. We have public transport, taxis, bicycles, walking, renting cars etc all of which combined can be substituted for a private automobile and generally work out cheaper in the long run for us and society. People's habits in relation to cars has a number of causes; corporate propaganda telling us how wonderful cars are, advertising modelling the blissfully happy people we aspire to be driving cars around with their beautiful friends, a media which receives a substantial portion of its income from their ability to sell automobile related products, governments which get revenues from taxes and fines, corporate contributions to political parties, our laziness and our habit of acting like the people around us without thinking things out for ourselves, in the US a number of car related companies even got together and purchased public transport in order to tear it up to force people to use their products. We've been controlled, misinformed, mislead and this has caused us to avoid what should be an obvious truth, that the automobile is in most ways a negative thing for human society which causes vast damage to nature through our overuse of them.

The car is an important point, but it is just one thing amidst many. We make conformist choices without thought, that don't stand up to elementary ethical scrutiny. You can choose to accept this, you can continue to wilfully avert your gaze from the effects ours lifestyles are having in the world. You can try to stay mesmerized by the glossy advertising put there partly for the purpose of distracting you. A phrase for this, 'ecological dissassociation' has even been coined by psychologists so widespread is this mental behaviour. But if we seek to really live our existence, every now and then I would hope we would take a moment to question ourselves. Do we live a deluded life?

In our current society many of us are living in various stages of delusion. Its a simple choice we make, for the sake of what we short sightedly perceive as our happiness we block out uncomfortable thoughts from our consciousness. The destruction of forests and habitat, the extinction of a species every few minutes, the poisonous chemicals we pour into the natural world, the pollution sending child breathing disorders soaring, the overfishing of the oceans, just to name a few things, all of this seems so dark and so out of our control that we flinch from it mentally in the same way we would a physical blow. We need distractions from this truth, and we turn to passive entertainment, drugs, fantasy, religion, social life, whatever we can to block it out.

This is a downward spiral, the more things get out of control with the environment, the more powerless we feel, the less likely we are to get involved and fix the problem. The less people get involved, the more we think the problems are unsolvable, the more depressed we feel about it, the more our subconscious tells us to look away. This destructive cycle needs to stop with each individual, that means you. When you choose not to act, you make that choice not only for yourself, but you become a negative role model on the people around you. They are less likely to act. The powerful thing if you choose to act, is that you will positively effect the people around you. Your actions will have a power much greater than you could have as a single person. It is a network effect.

We all need to wake up from the slumber of self focused being, which limits us to isolated individuals.

We need to start living consciously, so perhaps we can experience happiness and contentment as empowered, consequential individuals, rather than continuing to live a delusional, passive existence, being deliberately fed to us by people suffering even worse from the same affliction. Money is made from apathy.

First and foremost we don't need a society of followers, we need a society of leaders.

Raise your eyes, educate yourself, understand what is happening to our environment. Identify facets that you connect with, that you want to do something about, whether it be global warming, animal habitat, forests, nuclear waste, genetic modification, over fishing, water pollution, air pollution or something else. The immensity of the problem can be overwhelming, but this just confirms how important and meaningful the choice is, this is your motivation. An individual can't single handedly fix everything, but we can fix something, even a small improvement means an improved world.

In any case you are not alone in your aspirations, compassionate people around the world are doing great things, we just need many, many more of them.

Get active, pick up a pen and write letters and emails, tell the people doing great things that they inspire you, tell those doing negative things that they can be better. Write to your local and regional politicians and let them know what you care about, what influences your voting choices. A letter might mean nothing to you, but the evidence tells us they make a real difference. There are many other simple things you can do, walk, ride a bike, plant a native tree, eat less animal and other environmentally unfriendly products, recycle, buy recycled, choose energy efficient appliances, get green energy from your power company, choose environmentally aware products, join any one of the great organisations out there, give them some money...the list is endless, the choices are yours and every small action is progress, as well as being a positive, deeply political statement against a polluted, selfish world.

Ultimately it is about putting thought into your life, and being an example to encourage others that might take pause to wonder if the world has to be this way. Think for yourself, make your own decisions, find alternative ways of doing things, understand the environmental effects of our lifestyle, be part of the solution. The plants and animals on the brink of extinction, this wounded world, needs the realisation of the potential for greatness within you, that greatness lying hidden beneath every passive consumer of created wants.

To not use our lives for the betterment of the world from which we draw breath, would seem to be living an existence less beautiful and true. Once we cast aside the blinkers of self obssession, we can see existence in a new way free from its relationship to our desires. An unfathomable, beautiful, mysterious, intricate, glorious universe, within which we can do great things.

I can't think of anything more meaningful than that.

by Cameron Green

Cameron Green
Last Updated - Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:04:32 -0600