Earth Day: The View From Space (cont.)
They understood that the way we live on Earth would be absolutely insane in the self-contained environment of a space colony. Clean, efficient technology, zero emissions, and recycling of waste aren’t just good ideas on the moon or Mars, but matters of life and death.
Sometimes, in order to comprehend a problem, a little distance is needed (in this case, the 238,400 miles separating Earth from moon). If it would be insane to live on the moon as wastefully as we live on Earth, then it also has to be insane to live as we do on Earth itself. The terrestrial scale may be larger and the effects slower, easier to blame on something else or simply ignore. But the truth is, as Buckminster Fuller put it in 1963, we live on Spaceship Earth, where resources are just as finite, and just as subject to destruction, exhaustion, and contamination through man’s carelessness and waste, as any domed space colony we might imagine or build.
America is in crisis today in large measure from clinging to insanely wasteful ways that only makes sense because they are all we know, based on the naïve notion that Earth’s bounty is inexhaustible, and the conventional wisdom that environmentalism is an impediment, rather than a stimulus, to growth and prosperity. That’s the false premise that the partisans and deniers have been advancing for the past thirty years. And they have it exactly backwards.
What’s good for the earth, in end, is good for humanity — our health, our chilren and, yes, our economy, too. Waste doesn’t just muck up nature and cause global warming and exhaust our recourses. Waste costs money.
The main task before us this Earth Day, and the hardest, lies in trying to look at the way we live as if we were part of a Spaceset project. See the insanity. Stop the insanity.
This will require a paradigm shift in thinking, but history shows that, after initial resistance, Americans are actually quite good at pulling off such shifts. We have reversed ourselves in fundamentals ways on such diverse collective behaviors as racial discrimination, sexism, smoking, littering and drunk driving – after concerted campaigns to persuade, and sometimes compel, Americans to do the opposite of what they have always done. Think of Iron Eyes Cody, who almost singlehandedly ended litter.
Now it’s time for doing the opposite of waste. What better day than Earth Day to take that first step.
A short selection of things you can do to start saving the Earth:
- Drive less, bike more.
- East less beef (number two on the global warming hit parade).
- It’s spring, so plant a vegetable garden. The less distance your food has to travel to reach your plate, the greener you are. If you haven’t grown your own tomatoes, you haven’t ever tasted a tomato.
- Plan meals and make a shopping list before heading to the market, as the average American family wastes 30 percent of its food budget buying stuff that eventually goes bad, a carbon footprint with nothing to show for it.
- Weatherproof and insulate your home or business.
- Install some ceiling fans instead of running the AC. The really do work.
- Follow the three Rs – reuse, reduce, recycle. That means buying used stuff at garage sales or on eBay — stuff you really need — is a good thing.
- Do some research, make your own Earth Day list of waste-cutting tactics, and feel free to post them here in comments.
- Shut off the darn computer. Now. And get out of here.