Friday, February 13, 2009

Altering the eco, one decision at a time

We're privileged to have Adam Shake from Twilight Earth guest posting for us today. Read more about Adam at the end of the post.

Until recently, and even today, the term “Altering the Ecology” of something has had negative connotations associated with it. But how do we alter the eco in a good way?

My philosophy is that environmentalism isn’t about saving the planet. Environmentalism is about saving us.

I’m reading an interesting book by Malcolm Gladwell entitled “Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” and in it, he reaffirms some of the things that I’ve always thought. One of them is that some people place “representative feelings on things” and some don’t. You see, we as humans have an intrinsic relationship with nature. We are a part of it, and yes, we need to use it for our survival, but we over use it. It would make sense that we would want to take care of something that we depend on. After all, we take care of our cars, our tools, our homes, all the things that we use to survive. Why wouldn’t we take care of the planet? It’s the planet that provides these things to us!

A person with Autism has trouble creating attachments with other people. Often times, people with autism will look at your shoulder or your hand or at a light switch when you talk to them, because they do not have the ability to see outside themselves and recognize other people as having an intrinsic relationship with them on a human level. To some severe autistics, other people are nothing more than objects.

As a human species, we’ve become autistic to nature. It holds no intrinsic “value” to us, other than what we can take from it. We alter the ecology of the rivers by buying soda, we alter the ecology of trees by overhunting wolves, and we change the frequency and intensity of storm systems by utilizing fossil fuels, resulting in millions of deaths each year. We have altered the ecology of the Wolf and Moose predator / prey cycle on Isle Royal in Lake Superior because Climate Change has increased the number of ticks on the island. The Moose are dying from the ticks and the Wolves are being affected. These are just a few of the hundreds of things that occur when we think of our planet as being “outside of ourselves.”

When we don’t value our planet, we don’t value ourselves. Everything that we do has an effect on our environment, albeit a small one, and it is the accumulation of those billions of effects, that have an effect on us as individuals.

Often times, the negative effects that the environment places on us as a result of our actions, are felt the least by those who are the greatest contributors to environmental damage.

The gold jewelry and diamonds we buy in 1st world counties are mined in 3rd world countries using heavy metals that poison the earth and the people who mine them. The amount of HFCS that we consume in the United States effects the global price of grain, affecting three quarters of the world’s populations whose staple diet is grain and rice. These are just a few of the examples of transitioning global effects of individual consumer decisions. The high amount of CO2 in the atmosphere can not be transferred back to oxygen by the world’s oceans, so the oceans are becoming acidified. That acid is killing the coral around the world and as the coral dies, tidal swells and flooding are occurring more frequently on shorelines around the ocean. But we are not thinking about someone’s fishing village being devastated when we buy that S.U.V.

How do we Alter the Eco? We Alter the Eco by keeping things simple.
  • Home grown food (1 process) is better than farmer’s market food. (2 processes) Farmer’s market food is better than store bought natural food. (3 processes) Store bought natural foods are better than store bought processed foods. (4 processes)
  • Tap water is better than bottled water, bottled water is better than soda and soda is just down right silly.
If we try to keep things as natural as possible and keep the production processes for those things as low as possible, then we are Altering the Eco.

We need to realize that we are involved with the planet. We have a relationship with it, and whether we are held accountable by our society or even our God, we are accountable to ourselves and our children.

Environmentalism is not about saving the planet, it’s about saving ourselves.

As always, keep up the good fight, and Alter the Eco! (In a good way!)

Adam Shake is the founder of Twilight Earth, a blog that brings news and excellent commentary on what is going on with the environment worldwide that we need to care about. Whether he's educating about the environmental impact of things like coal or simply sharing his breathtaking photos of nature, I always learn something at his site. Visit Twilight Earth and look around (and check out my guest post on his site later today). 

On his blog he says "I’m about sharing with you what I know, what I’m learning, and what I’m ignorant about in reference to this huge subject that we call the environment." That's what we appreciate around here. 

Image: petra
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