I never know what to make of someone imploring me to help save the planet. They're often earnest and energetic, burdened with altruistic motives, naive enthusiasm and uncertain aim. I generally try to explain - gently - that their goal is noble but their target is wrong. The planet will take care of itself; it's humankind that needs saving... from the scariest predator on Earth: itself.
The planet will be just fine, thank you. As soon as humans stop pumping poison gas into the air, toxic waste into the rivers and oceans and anything they want to get rid of into the ground, in other words when humans simply disappear from its surface, the Earth will silently, inexorably get on with the task of renewing itself.
Depending on which dogma you believe, science or religion, the Earth is either 4.5 billion years old or 5-6,000 years old. While I prefer science to imagination, it really doesn't matter which number you hitch your wagon to when it comes to pondering the damage humans have done to that which sustains their own lives. Wholesale destruction of the human habitat only dates from the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the late 18 th century, and really only got up to speed in the 20 th with the rapid perfection and spread of internal combustion engines, electrical generating capacity and industrial agriculture. In either geological or Christian time, the caca only recently hit the fan.
But there's hope, isn't there? We're more enlightened than we were before, aren't we? I mean, like, we can drive a Prius and maybe even electric cars soon, can't we?
If you'd like a quick peep show of how enlightened we've become, click onto this website. http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/photos/the-15-most-toxic-places-to-live/26145
Makes you wonder what an anomaly this town is. Makes me wonder how the Alberta tar sands tailings missed making the top 15. Guess no one "lives" there.
While it's easy to tsk-tsk those wretched, backward, unenlightened saps in China, Indonesia, India and Appalachia, the irony is our own enlightened contribution to the problem. Just this week, in 130 countries around the world, thousands of people joined a flash protest mob calling on world leaders to tackle the thorny issue of climate change. Pictures from these protests show happy, enthusiastic, young, white faces holding their cell phones, PDAs and other digitalia aloft in triumphant protest. Organized through various social networking outlets, the flash mob demanded someone - else? - do something about environmental degradation.
The International Energy Agency recently released a report they might want to consider. It traced the arc of the rise of consumer electronics. Among the tidbits of information the report contained was Americans - and one would not be going out on much of limb to extrapolate Canadians, Brits, French, Germans, etc. - boast 25 consumer electronic products per household. The number in 1980 was three. Each of these indispensable gadgets suck enough electricity that they now consume 15 per cent of the power used in the average household. Oh yeah, that amount is projected to triple over the next 20 years.