Our Earth: What Will It Take?

Our planet is dying. We are killing it. I am not trying to be alarmist or hysterical, I am stating what I, and others, believe to be a fact.

What will it take for you to make changes in your life so that your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can live on a beautiful and healthy planet?

As I listened in to the last fifteen minutes of a live stream from the Northland College Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute last night aptly named Confronting Collapse, the above question was asked by a gentleman in the audience.

Indeed, what will it take?

Next month, I will graduate with an advanced degree in Natural Resources. My focus was Environmental Education and the serious, concerned content of the streamed community conversation of last night was not strange to me at all.  Regularly, over the last four and a half years, I’ve had such similar conversations with a like-minded cohort at the University from which I’ll receive my degree.

Currently, we live on a planet with major problems. Species are disappearing at an alarming rate. Our oceans’ are glutted with plastic. Our food is contaminated with poisons and contaminants. An abundance of clean drinking water, something we all take for granted, will become a more precious, and potentially fought over, commodity.  Fires are burning out of control in places where people have invaded the wild. Unfortunately, homes will be built on this same land, posing recurrent risk for additional loss of property and wildlife.  Food is grown and shipped hundreds to thousands of miles before it is eaten. Have you noticed that your lettuce no longer remains fresh in its plastic bag?  A smell of sewage assaults one’s sense of smell even when visiting a Hawaiian paradise. When will it end? We are greedy. We are overgrown. We comprise a disposable and disrespectful society here in the United States and many other places in the world. The mentality is use it and throw it away. It has gone too far for we are throwing away our very existence!

We’ve lost our respect for nature. In truth, the land, sea and air have become the garbage cans we humans use for our life on earth.  It is so sad. And, sobering.

I ask again, what will it take? When will you do something to change this fatal course we are all on? When?

Will you wait until you are hungry? Will you wait until there is no clean water or until you’ve been poisoned by your own tap? Will you wait until your home is destroyed? Will you wait until our pollinators no longer exist in plentiful enough numbers to supply the ever-increasing multitude of people with food? What will it take for YOU to step away from the masses and take a stand for the future of our planet and our very lives?

I know my impetus for taking a hard look at some of the issues facing the human race has been our youth. In them there is hope. It is where I choose to try to make a difference, and try to inspire awe in our natural world so that it might give way to a love so deep that they grow into adults who have been taking action since they were small.

But, another participant in the institute last night also made a statement that reverberated with me. He said, and I agree, any kind of cultural shift that will help to reverse the path we are on and help build adaptive, sustainable plans for the future is borne of education.  A solid understanding of the problems at hand, in a broad sense, is necessary for people to want to change their behaviors. Without that desire, we are fighting a losing battle.

So, I ask you, What will it take? When will you change some or all of your behavior to enable life on earth to continue for not only your future generations but all of ours, as well.  It is time. Be self-less. Take Action. Get Involved. Be Informed.

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