“We have to shift our emphasis from economic efficiency and materialism towards a sustainable quality of life and to healing of our society, of our people, and our ecological systems.” – Janet Holmes à Court
While writing another post, I came across a set of images that made me stop. If you knew the schedule I keep from 4am to 9pm daily, you’d understand why anything’s ability to make me stop – dead in my tracks – is a big deal. I used one of those photos in that previous blog and, when the link assigned to the image started to get an incredibly impressive number of hits, I knew it was making others stop as well. So, I decided to write this blog for two reasons: first, to bring these disturbing and beautiful artistic essays to more eyes and, second, to make a record of the feelings and questions these images coaxed out of me. Yes, I know there are economies at stake – but those economies are going to collapse along with the rest of us if we don’t figure out alternatives. I don’t have all the answers, but the conversations are starting – and that’s a hopeful thing. Because when we have actual, real discussions, actual, real solutions are born.
Robin Wood is an environmental advocacy group based out of Germany. This group recently embarked on a campaign to illustrate the destruction of animal habitats by human hands. By blending images of wildlife together with the harmful practices that are destroying their ecosystems, the group has created a visually stunning and unapologetically provocative CGI series titled “Destroying nature is destroying life.” This series has succeeded in sparking an uncomfortable, yet necessary, conversation; one which places a searing spotlight on humanity’s acquiescence to destructive greed at the expense of our cohabitants and the resources we all rely on for survival.
This greed goes further than simple selfish behaviors on display, and instead breaks down the door which holds back the realm of tangible repercussions. It is killing our animal life; destroying our ecosystems; and putting the likelihood of humankind’s continued existence at risk.
We are forced to ask ourselves some difficult questions that deserve honest answers: Is our very existence something we’re really okay gambling on? Is our intent to roll the dice on toxic actions today emboldened by the belief that the fallout from those actions will be the problem of a future generation? Are we really just going to sit back and let our children and grandchildren suffer the consequences of our apathetic and dispassionate attitudes?
The fact is, we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to practices that have, for centuries, done more to harm our environment than heal it. Climate change is here. It’s now. It’s evident in our weather patterns. We see it in the severity of droughts and record-breaking storm-fronts. And, as islands slip below the water’s surface, it can no longer be ignored or brushed aside. Inaction is no longer a choice.
Drilling for Fossil Fuel in the Arctic
There’s not enough oil in the Arctic to warrant the risks associated with drilling in this pristine ecosystem. Enough already – we have the ability to put a man on the moon, we can send a rover to Mars and have it take selfies, we’ve reached Pluto and have had photos beamed back to our living rooms. It’s quite obvious that we have the capacity to create a storage system for solar energy that’s environmentally stable. Why anyone would think this beyond our ability is baffling.
Deforestation to Satisfy the Demand for Wood Without Replenishment
Sustainable forest management is a proven approach to being able to utilize this resource, while replenishing it at the same time. Rotated plantings, harvesting fallen debris for use, recycling and repurposing disused wooden furniture – all of this is well within our skill set. No waiting, no extensive experimentation: it works. Why don’t we use it?
Intentional Burning in Southeast Asia to Make Room for Palm Oil Plantations
Think about this – burning tropical forests to the ground, to make room for planting a specific variety of tropical tree, in order to produce: vegetable oil. Really? Palm oil’s main use is in food products. Here’s an idea: cut the oil from your diet. As a critically thinking society, this one is so completely within our grasp – never mind the additional contributions to our overall health – that it’s almost embarrassing it’s an actual problem.
But they’re all problems.
Our planet has several unique, and extremely sensitive, ecosystems. These ecosystems are interconnected; they rely on each other to sustain, replenish, and balance out the ability to host and support life. Each ecosystem and each species is inexorably linked. Nature does not care if we believe we are a chain, or not. We are – and that’s the sticking point. From every last ground dwelling mammal to every stock broker on Wall Street; each living, breathing life form on this planet is a link in that chain. And we all know a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Humankind’s link comes armed with chainsaws and maniacal grins, while playing host to visions of chowing down on processed snack foods as we gun our V-8 – powered SUVs down carved out logging roads into decimated old-growth forests. Is that our legacy? Perhaps, instead, a better use of our time would be to step back, grab an apple, and take a stroll to the local hardware store to buy some solder. Maybe then we can take the time to reflect on repairing our own weaknesses.