Protecting the environment isn’t just about saving the planet. It’s about saving ourselves. It’s about being responsible custodians of nature not just for its own sake (though that’s important too), but so we can keep relying on it…instead of sucking the life out of everything we can like there’s no tomorrow, leaving a world that’s too inhospitable for us to live on in any sort of comfortable civilization.
Tens of thousands of years on, the planet will recover from just about anything we throw at it, as long as we stop messing things up at some point (like, say, dying back to subsistence level as famines and wars over the remaining resources kill us off). It may take longer for biodiversity to recover, but it will happen eventually, as it has after each great extinction event — though always taking new paths to replace the possibilities that didn’t make it.
But I don’t have 10,000, 100,000, or a million years to wait for things to recover, and neither do you.
I miss the optimism of the 1990s, when the message I got was “Things are messed up, but we can fix them.” Remember when we were more worried about running out of oil than about the effects of burning it? Now the message I keep seeing is, “Too late! We’re all screwed!” Especially with large entrenched interests trying to not just fight the gains we’ve made since the 1970s, but actively roll them back.
Maybe we can’t solve the problem completely anymore. But at least we can try to mitigate it a little.
Guys, “Check your privilege” isn’t a moral judgment against you, it’s a reminder that we all have blind spots.
The human brain is very good at downplaying or dismissing problems that we don’t see much ourselves to focus more energy on those that we do. It’s the same psychology that makes Douglas Adams’ “Somebody Else’s Problem Field” work in his books and ring true to the reader.
We all do this.
The statement is just to remind us that we need to try to push through that SEP field to really look at what’s behind it.
“Please sign this petition about X!”
“OK, I care about X, what’s the petition actually say?”
“It’s about X!”
“Right, but what’s the actual wording? Am I putting my name on supporting a specific action? ‘Cause I’d support some actions but not others.”
“It’s telling them to do something about X!”
“Yeah, I got that. What is it telling them to do?”
“Just look for solutions?”
“No, it’s telling them what we want them to do about X.”
“Sorry, but I’m not signing my name to a blank letter.”
“Why don’t you care about X?”
I’m totally willing to sign petitions when I can see the actual wording and it’s something I agree with.
But if the petition website doesn’t say what they’re actually delivering? I don’t want to put my name on something that might be advocating what that I consider to be a bad solution, even if I agree on the problem.
“Not loyal.” Two years in and the President still doesn’t understand (or more likely, doesn’t care) that officials owe their loyalty to the country, not to him personally.
I had a lot of problems with Bush, his policies and his priorities, but I never doubted he understood that the job was about the nation, not about him.
This guy? He’s never given me reason to doubt the opposite: that he thinks it’s all about himself.
You’re tired of skateboarders on your street, though there are a lot fewer of them these days than there used to be. Your city/housing association won’t build a barrier at the end of the block. A lot of people don’t think the skateboarders are as big a problem, or even a problem at all…
But this is an emergency! (Even though the numbers are already declining.) So you take your neighbors’ money and put spikes across the street and their yard. Nothing on wheels is going to get through!
Meanwhile, the skateboarders keep walking in on the sidewalks, carrying their skateboards, like they’ve always done.
You’ve misappropriated funds, violated your neighbors’ property rights, blocked traffic…and yet you haven’t actually addressed how the skateboarders are showing up in the first place.