With all of the mess going on across the world, I still think trying to get our planet healthy — for us — should be our number one priority. It isn’t number one. I don’t even think it is really on the list. It’s theoretically on the list, but as far as I can tell, it’s all a lot of hot air.
None of the rich, powerful nations who have done the majority — the vast majority — of the damage are doing much of anything except making empty promises. And people being lazy and too busy being busy to do anything else, can’t seem to do anything at all. This includes basics, like not throwing junk in the rivers or woods — something they should have learned in grade school.
I understand the problems are huge, but despite that, we all have a role to play. It may be a small roll, but many small things add up to a bigger thing and if enough people do it, a huge thing.
Feed the wild things. Build a bird or bat house. If you have enough property, let at least some of it go “wild” to give creatures a chance at life on this planet. They aren’t the ones who despoiled it.
In your opinion, how are we affecting our planet?
Apparently humans merely being here is enough to make a mess of the world. We think we started creating disasters a few hundred years ago, but really, we’ve been destroying nature as long as we have existed.
The Sahara was not always a desert. Humans own a big part of its creation. We overgrazed it and failed to farm it sensibly. Knowledge of arid region farming is not new. Archaeologists found an ancient African civilization once turned part of the Sahara back into a green oasis. Between 1 and 500 C.E., the Garmantes built a large community in the Sahara using their advanced understanding of irrigation to grow crops — something we decided wasn’t important when we took our beautiful prairies and created a dust bowl. Experts found the remains of Garmantes’ buildings in 2011.
Meanwhile and a bit previously, we ate the last of the mastodons. In Florida. About 13,000 years ago. I’m not sure what that says about Florida, but you can draw your own conclusions.
If you watch westerns (movies), there are always these fights between farmers and cattlemen. The farmers are convinced they can turn the area into great farmland. The cattlemen say if they dig up the grass, nothing will live there. The cattlemen are always the bad guys — except they were right. The grass was what kept the prairies from becoming deserts and once they were plowed up? Deserts. Ken Burns made a documentary about the dust bowl. Human stupidity on the march!
What solutions would you offer to stem the multiple problems we face vis a vis the destruction of our planet home?
As an important start, we can stop cutting down all the trees and flattening every wild area. Houses and trees can exist together. It’s not one or the other. Stop building cities and leave room between areas of housing.
As individuals, we can’t fix the whole planet. But we can take the little piece of it we might own and let nature take some of it back. The classic “golf-green lawn” is a waste of space. Many places are gradually replacing big lawns with a more natural habitat. Yes, we need a piece of land for our house and on which we can hang out with family and friends. The rest of our land can go back to nature. We don’t need acres of lawn. We don’t need to cut down all the trees. Houses and trees can live in harmony. Really. No kidding.
We have 2.43 acres which, around here, is a very small plot. About 1/3 of an acre of our land is taken up by the house, the front and back yards. The rest is woods or brush. That’s plenty for us — plus enough room for birds and foxes and bobcats and more. We are not alone in doing this. Many are doing it and there are a lot of books explaining how.
We have taken so much away. Don’t you think it’s time to give something back? It’s not too late if everyone makes an effort. We are not helpless. Maybe we can’t fix all the broken pieces, but we can start doing small things that are within our abilities. We can stop developers from destroying what’s left of the trees. We can set up laws to protect forests and watersheds. Ironically, Arizona who have some of the awful laws for people have done a surprisingly good job protecting their creatures and wild places.
Step one is to make an effort, even if it’s uncomfortable. “Getting comfortable” is how we wound up where we are now.
Do you think it’s already too late and we could just do exactly as we’re doing now and things would turn out the very same?
It’s absolutely too late if we don’t do anything. Because nothing is what we are doing. We haven’t done a single thing to repair our world. We haven’t stopped a developer or prevented a forest from being flattened. Maybe we can’t do everything, but nothing is definitely not going to fix anything anywhere.
Do you participate in things like “Arbor Day” (a U.S. Holiday dedicated to planting new trees) or Earth Day or Earth Month?
No. These special “days” are designed to make people feel like they are accomplishing something when in fact, they are having a picnic and will probably leave their trash behind. People are slobs.
Is any of it important in the ‘Big Picture’?
What big picture? You mean the planet isn’t big enough? How big do we need to go? If we can’t stop destroying our own home, there ain’t gonna be any “big picture.” Not for humans, anyway
What can you personally do to participate in the “Clean Earth” movement?
I feed the birds. I contribute monthly — not a lot because we don’t have a lot to give — to Cornell’s Birding group. When I can, I send a few dollars to Gerald Durrell’s zoo on Jersey. Mostly, though, I leave the woods alone. I don’t cut the hedges because they are full of bird’s nests. Is it inconvenient? Yes. I do it anyway because if we only do what’s comfortable and convenient, nothing will change and the future will die. In comfort.