An Environmental Essay

Discussion in 'Living on the Earth' started by misterymachine, Apr 7, 2007.

  1. I just wrote this for school - gimmie some feedback. It's about 4.5 pages long, so it'll take a few minits, and the formatting has been lost by pasting it here, but it's easy enough. The Essay's Title is: A Convenient Truth ("Who cares? I'll be dead")

    In recent years concern has been growing rapidly about climate change and other environmental issues that our world is facing as a result of human activity. We are now being constantly bombarded with radical messages from popular media about how we as humans need to make some drastic changes in our daily rituals, otherwise our affluent lifestyles could be threatened sometime in the near future. The problem with this is that generally the media’s messages are too narrow-minded and vague; overall what they have to say is fundamentally flawed. Mass media rarely tackles root problems; it is notorious for leaving out details and failing to report deep into the core of the issues. So far we the people have yet to really “get it” when it comes to our planet. We understand that we are messing with some of the Earth’s vital systems, and thus, will face the repercussions. What we don’t get is how this all came to be in the first place, and what we ought to be doing if we want to be around to see the next century. It’s hard for us to even imagine beyond a hundred years or so into the future. We may say we do, but really, we don’t worry about “saving the world”. The world will always be here, and can always recover on its own just fine – eventually. What we’re more concerned about is saving humanity. Environmentalism has turned trendy. Everybody wants to talk the talk and walk the walk, but that’s just because they follow the flock. People are ignorant to the condition of the world, and go about being “environmentally friendly” in all the wrong ways, for all the wrong reasons.

    I am a very ecocentric thinker, meaning I feel that any organism has just as much right to be here as the next organism. Everything has intrinsic value and beauty just because it is what it is. Everything fills a certain niche, and contributes to the balance of the natural world. This is where the GAIA hypothesis comes from. First introduced by independent research scientist Dr. James Lovelock, GAIA looks at the Earth as one giant living organism. Everything is connected to everything else, and if one of the planet’s systems has undergone harm, there will be a ripple effect throughout every other system. The Earth is as delicate, complex, and inter-connected as a spider’s web. Everything is here for a reason, and it is through evolution and adaptation that everything has come into play. Humans are no different. We have evolved over thousands of years, and sometime, about 600 years ago, when we hit the agricultural revolution, humans started to become destructive. As more and more cultures left their hunting and gathering roots, and turned to farming, humanity’s ecological footprint began to grow larger and larger, until eventually it surpassed the level of sustainability. We are the only creatures to have done this to date. We now reap the planet for all she’s worth, simply to live a life of luxury, and reside in self-contained (but hardly self-sufficient) micro ecosystems (houses), isolating ourselves from all other walks of life. We do more harm to the Earth than we do it good. If the planet is one giant living organism as GAIA would suggest, then man is its walking, talking disease, and we’re sure giving its immune system a run for its money!

    It’s only natural for different people from different backgrounds to have different outlooks on the world and different values. That is not wrong. It is problematic, however, that people who see themselves as “environmentalists”, who seem to be truly concerned with the state of our world, generally aren’t concerned for selfless, big picture reasons. When you really break it down, every possible environmental worldview can be viewed as anthropocentric or human being oriented. We want to conserve natural resources, prevent land and water contamination, and reverse the effects of climate change, but why? Is it because we are troubled by the fact that we are destroying a home to countless beautiful species who all depend upon one another to survive, or because we are concerned that soon humanity will be lost, and we will no longer be able to rule this kingdom as if it were our own? The former could be true for a few cute looking flagship species that we feel guilty about killing off, but for the most part the latter seems to be more applicable; we’re much more concerned about leaving a good place to live for our own kind. Either way, as long as we’re doing our best to keep the Earth in good health, the incentive shouldn’t matter though, right? Wrong. Try to think back in your family history beyond three generations. I’ll bet you can’t. It just isn’t something that’s important to most people. Now, try to think ahead more than three generations. That’s a little difficult too, isn’t it? There’s our problem – we don’t think long-term, we don’t think fundamentally, we don’t think sustainably. We don’t think. For example, right now, we’re thinking about solutions to our global energy crisis. So far the best idea we’ve come up with is to go nuclear. Excuse me, but, uh, ha! Nuclear is a joke! This is a global energy crisis; do we really want nuclear technologies in the hands of countries around the world? I think not. Plus, look at the disasters that can ensue from legitimate use; need I mention Chernobyl? And don’t even get me started on nuclear waste. The Canadian government is wrong, nuclear energy is as far from “clean” as you can get; the highly toxic spent fuel has a radioactive half-life of about a thousand years. We need to think proactive. We need to think conservation. I don’t just mean measly cutbacks and sacrifices either; I mean some serious attitude reconsideration. If keeping our species alive is the main goal, we need to learn to put aside our differences, forget our prejudices, drop our egos, and work together! We need to function as a community and stride towards real self-improvement as a species, getting back to our core values, and re-examining what’s important, to keep our home habitable.

    The most ridiculous thing to come of this newfound “environmental awareness” that has recently dawned upon the general public is how global climate change has become a marketing campaign. Corporations are profiting off the planet’s demise. For example, take this new organic food fad that has become prominent in the marketplace over the past couple of years. Organic food sales have more than tripled in the past two years alone. People are buying certified organic products because commercials and packaging are telling them that it is a healthy alternative to genetically modified and chemically treated foods. It’s good for their health, and is beneficial for Mother Earth. First of all, I can’t begin to explain why someone, somewhere long ago ever decided that it was a good idea to spray something they were going to eat with a petroleum-derived chemical so potent it could wipe out an entire population of insects. All food should be organic, but that’s a whole other discussion. Concerning these hot new certified organic foods, does anyone consider where all this produce coming from? Let me tell you. Those organic avocados and papayas sure aren’t native to Canadian soil. The most common place of origin for our fruit is Chile. The environmental impact of shipping all these foods halfway around the world is immense, and all because North-American consumers will have nothing less than every variety of fruit and vegetable at every time of the year. In terms of environmental impact, paradoxically, it is more important to buy local foods than it is to buy organic. It cuts the economic and environmental costs of shipping to a mere fraction, and at the same time, it brings a sense of community and attachment back into the culture to know where your food comes from. We really ought to be thinking globally, and acting locally. There are countless other examples of these new marketing tactics as well; they show up in ads for cosmetics, clothing, electronics, and virtually every other product category. Ad agencies are exploiting and taking full advantage of their customers at every opportunity. There seems to be no end to the lengths that people will go to make money. Average folks are pretty naïve, they shop based on TV commercials they’ve seen. We buy products because we have the notion that they will make our lives better. Our economy is built around increasing consumption at an exponential, unsustainable rate. Companies are manipulative with their customers. Consumers are socially engineered. We are told what to buy, when to buy it, and where to buy it from if we want to look like a model, drive like a race car driver, or just watch the biggest, baddest gosh darn TV in the west. This social engineering can encompass simple ideas like moving the milk to the back of the grocery store, forcing us all to walk past every other product just to get to what we came for. It can also encompass huge campaigns, plastering some plastic celebrity’s face all over billboards, magazines, TV, the internet, the back of the bus, Johnny’s lunchbox, and your coffee cup. She’ll be holding on to a pack of gum that supposedly “whitens while you chew”, and smiling her big flashy pearly whites, saying, “this stuff sure made my life better, y’all better run to the store and buy some for yourself now, then you can look like me!” News flash: we’re not supposed to look like you! We need to get serious. We don’t need all this junk. It doesn’t make us happy. It leaves us deluded, sugar-coated. Most products come in two or three layers of packaging that get thrown in a big pit somewhere. We don’t have infinite big pits. Even the products themselves are made to break so we’ll have to replace them sooner than later. We’re confusing wants for needs, and as a result, our lives are lacking true value. People these days are embracing “stuff” way too much. Is it surprising that divorce rates are continuously on the rise when so are the number of hours couples spend watching TV? No, it’s not. Our priorities are clearly in the wrong place. We’re losing touch with ourselves, our loved ones, and our surroundings. Once upon a time we new what was important. Family dinner used to be a given. Where did we go wrong?

    It may not surprise you to know that the way I live is considered a little weird by people I know (especially my parents). I’m vegan, I brush my teeth with baking soda, you’ll never see me in clothes that use me as a billboard as the keep me warm, and I couldn’t tell you who got the boot on American Idol last night. And that’s just a scratch in my surface. My lifestyle is very contrary to many social norms, and I can only see it varying more and more as I age. I am far from perfect, but I do what I can. It’s not because I want to save the world, and it sure isn’t to save us humans – so why? It’s because it’s what I believe is right. I’m not saying everyone has to believe that (although I can’t help but be silently critical of people’s habits sometimes). I’m saying that everyone ought to believe in something, and follow through with whatever it is that they believe. If you love kids, and to you they’re the most important people in world because they are the future, and you think you could help point them in the right direction, then be a teacher. Don’t go for the crappier, florescent lights and cubicle job just because they toss you a few extra bucks each year. Do what you believe. Bring some meaning back into your life. Contribute to society; feel good about who you are. Have your fun too, but give it some value. I don’t know if environmentalists are just prolonging the inevitable, if we’re just dragging out the suffering, which could be the case. Nonetheless, I still don’t feel right ignoring little things: needlessly idling a car, blasting the air conditioning, running the water as I brush my teeth, or even using disposable napkins. When I know there’s an alternative, I use it. I respect the planet, and it just isn’t right for me to contribute to its harassment if I can help it. It’s beyond me when I realize that people simply don’t care. Environmentalism shouldn’t be a political issue. We know what’s happening, and we’re just letting it happen.
    I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. I’m exited to see how we deal with a limited supply of oil and subtly rising sea levels, and to find out how quickly humans can adapt. I still have more tomorrows than yesterdays, and I feel that within my tomorrows tremendous things will happen. I don’t know if our future will look bright or dark, I just hope that as a species we make some real progress. Technology isn’t real progress, and technology won’t save us. I hope we reach for bigger, better things, and that we open our minds to new ideas. Think of it this way: If you’re standing in the road with a Mac truck cruising towards you at a hundred miles an hour, you move – don’t you? I know I do. You’ve probably heard this quote before, but think about it again, it’s very simple, and makes so much sense: Mahatma Gandhi told us to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
     
  2. Cornball1

    Cornball1 Member

    Overall not a bad paper. Population is the main problem. Every species in an ecosystem has a carrying capacity(K). In some cases a species population rises then just kind of plataus off. In others it rises exponentially, then falls exponentially and repeats. Technology seems to allow us greater ability to increase our population above K, at least temporarly. It will be interesting to see what happens now that we have greatly exceded the carrying capacity.
     
  3. very true, i've studied about that too... interesting stuff--> resources go up, so population follows, the carrying capacity gets exceeded, resources fall, so does population, then the process repeats.... anyway thanks for your input...i ended up getting a 96% on the paper!!
     

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