Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stewards of the earth

Before I get started on this topic I would like to acknowledge that this can be a very politically charged issue. I don't want to just argue talking points and political agendas in this post or any post really. My goal with this post and this website is to find principles, that when applied by most people, will make the world a better place for everyone. No matter your political agenda, I'm sure that you can agree that we all need to take better care of our home, the earth. Whether we are talking about issues as big as pollution or as small as wasting resources, there is a lot of room for improvement.

That being said, let me share some of my thoughts.

One big issue that we are having in the world is most people aren't taking care of the planet that we are living on.

Everything we have, our food, our water, our houses, our enjoyment, our life, all comes from the earth.

The earth gives us these things so that we can survive. And not just survive, so that we can enjoy life. But what happens when our earth can no longer provide these things. What happens when we continually take take take and never give back to the earth?

Everything on this earth is living symbiotically. Every plant, animal, and microorganism is taking what they need and giving the rest back to the rest of the ecosystem.

I think the problem we have as humans is that because we have the ability to reason, we have been able to use the world to our advantage and override our natural state of being part of the ecosystem. We like to control what is around us, the better we control things, the better we understand it and the more advantage we can gain. We have separated ourselves from nature because it is difficult for us to control. We try to force nature to comply with what we want. It is a constant battle between us and nature. Weeds vs lawn, forced animal compliance vs animals natural desires, sidewalks vs tree roots. The list goes on and on.

Now, all this being said, I don't want you to get the impression that I am an anti human, environmentalist. Definitely not. Let me explain.

I don't think our ability to reason and our desire to make our lives better by controlling what is around us is necessarily a bad thing. I think that the human species is the climax of nature, the top achievement of the earth. We are the species that can actually actively help make the world better.

I don't think the solution to our problems is to take nature and try to keep humans out of it. WE ARE PART OF NATURE! We are the thinking part, the brain so to speak. This gives us a huge responsibility. Just like a person can use their brain to make their body extremely healthy and able to do amazing things, they can also use their brain to become unhealthy and hurt the body. I think this analogy summarizes how I view our relationship with the earth, just like our bodies, we can make the earth an amazing place able to do amazing things, or we can cause it to become unhealthy.

We are the responsible ones, we are the problem. But as in most things, the problem can become the solution. Because we have this amazing ability to change the world around us we are responsible for making that change a positive one.

How we make this change is usually a very controversial issue. Some people think that the governments of the world should start forcing everybody to follow different environmental standards. Some people think it's not a big deal and we should just ignore the problem. Often these people are just angry because they're tired of the governments trying to force them to do anything.

I am of the opinion that before we can really have meaningful societal change, we need to have individual change in each of us. We can't force the majority to do anything or it will just create resentment and turn into another political battle. Us vs them. But remember, we are all on the same team, most people want to do what is best, they just need to know what is best, and we don't solve that by name calling and belittling those that don't agree with us. We need to do our best, and let other's see our example.

So here's a few ideas that I have, feel free to disagree or add any others you want in the comments and maybe I'll change my list.

Look at everything as if it has value. The idea of waste is, I believe, a human invention. We think that when something isn't giving us a direct benefit it is garbage to be separated from us. But remember, everything on this planet is part of the system. Just because we can't directly use a particular item doesn't mean we should throw it away. Try to figure out the fastest way that item can become useful for you, or other people as quickly as possible. Can you give it away? Can you recycle it? Can you compost it? Can you think of other uses for it? If you just send something to a dump how long will it take to become useful again? 10 years? 100 years? 1000 years? I think our goal should be that everything we use can be reused as usefully as possible as quickly as possible.

Observe. The only way we can know how to best use the earth is to learn as much as we can about how it works. We should watch nature around us, think about how it interacts, what are the systems and processes at work and how can we integrate ourselves seamlessly?

Cooperate. Instead of thinking that we are competing against nature we need to think about how we can cooperate with it. Instead of trying to just do what is best for us at the expense of plants and animals, try to make win-win situations. What are the needs of the plant/animal? What does it want? What can it provide? How can we fulfil its needs and allow it to fulfil ours?

These things may sound simple, but I think if most people did these things we would have much better lives and a much better world.