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The Hubris Of Humans And Earth Day

I can think of nothing that more symbolises our catastrophic situation environmentally than the fact that we have an event called Earth Day. One day of the year in which we think about this place we inhabit. That's it. For 364 days of the year we pretty much ignore her, and then we have the unmitigated gall to believe we can make up for the neglect by organising community barbecues to pick up garbage. Everybody shows up in their S.U.V.s with plastic bags to fill up to take to non degradable land fill sites. As meaningless gestures goes this ranks up there with Jerry Lewis telethons and an associate producer credit(something you give your secretary instead of a raise)

All that an event like Earth Day does is emphasize how far we have drifted from the understanding that we are only one life form on this planet. In our hubris we have come to believe that laws of nature simply don't apply to us. Simple things like overpopulation, food supply and sustainability of an area apply to other species but not us. When we see a deer herd increase in population to the point where it will not be able to sustain itself due to insufficient food supplies (due to us killing off all the major predators which would keep their population in balance) we endorse what's known as a culling of the herd. Kill off some so that the majority can survive. But the same rules of supply and demand do not seem to apply to us.

We have population densities so high that the land we live on can't handle us anymore. Our wastes pile up, we have to import food, and natural resources are depleting. Yet we refuse to see the problem as one of our own making, or even to see a problem at all. Kyoto, recycling, alternative energy are not cures, they are simply treating the symptoms not the ailment as far as I'm concerned. We need to address our very relationship with the planet.

As a species, when we were directly dependent on our environment for survival, we had an understanding of where we fit in. We worshiped and were grateful for the gifts we received from the planet. Crops, hunting, clean water, or fresh air, were not taken as our due or for granted and we knew we had to abide by the laws that governed all life. From here, the usual argument goes, we moved on into a more mercantile society where the concepts of profits and control became more important, the direct relationship to the land was lost, and we were sundered from the other species. But why did that happen? Even without depending on the land for survival we could still see that we were the same species and that the same laws would still have to apply that did before.

Well I hate to sound cliched but the truth of the matter is that as patriarchal societies replaced matriarchal ones we stopped understanding nature and our role in it. As soon as we began simplifying things into good and evil, the us against them attitude of the monotheistic religions that we now follow, we began to think of ourselves as superior and separate from the natural world. Instead of just another species we became The Species.

The world was around for billions of years before we showed up (sorry creationists it's true, we're the Johnny come lately here) and was doing pretty good without us. How well do you think we'd do without her? Don't you think it's time we showed her a little more respect then a one day a year event? You don't have to go back to worshipping nature spirits (although that wouldn't hurt) to accomplish this, all you have to do is remember that you are bound by the same rules that apply to any species that lives on this planet.

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