A Home Called Earth
by Cori Morris
I choose to see the world, one way. Through a lens of sunshine. A harbinger of gold and pollen. I see the world in greens and yellows, saturated colors, orbs of light. I chase the sun dancing on my skin like a bee chases nectar. I live for those sun-saturated moments. The moments when I realize how good we have it here on planet Earth. When dancing for the pure pleasure of it, sunlight bursting, refracting off of eyes and skin. Closing your eyes and paying attention only to what your ears can hear. The sounds of squirrels calling to one another, the whizzing of bees flying busily by, birds singing glorious songs and hummingbirds cheerfully making their rounds. All of them fighting for one little spot of creation. Each new breath of life is a gift and yet we treat our resources like they are disposable.
We still don’t understand the monumental blessing we’ve been given. To live on a planet that has the kind of atmosphere we have, Earth is a singular anomaly in the Universe. There isn’t another planet like it that we’ve found. We have it so good and yet we don’t appreciate it. We use our resources as disposable – and we have no idea how much fossil fuel is left or how long it will last. We never think about what kind of pollution power plants spout off every day, providing us with electricity. Or that our waste is causing so much methane gas, that it’s causing the Earth to heat up (NASA). And that’s only one of the ways that Global Warming is affecting temperatures, emissions from our cars produce six different types air pollution, causing smog, and contributing to asthma and are even linked to cancer (Union of Concerned Scientists). So many of the ways that we live are wasteful and inefficient and harmful, but so many people won’t change because it’s not convenient for them. But it’s not about convenience, it’s about what we want the future to look like.
We live in a disposable age, an instant age. We want what we want now, and we don’t really think about the consequences. We go to the store and use numerous plastic bags once and then throw it away. We use plastic straws one time, and then they too are thrown away and end up poisoning our oceans, fish and us. We use and throw out things so much that the waste we produce is an insane amount. We throw things away without even thinking about it. But I’ve never seen someone throw away their whole house just because the drain got clogged or a toilet overflowed. Or get a new car just because they ran out of gas.
National Geographic discusses the harms of such indifference to waste and its side effects, “The prediction is that by mid-century, the oceans will contain more plastic waste than fish…” That shocking estimate should be enough to scare you. It certainly scares me. Although that’s not all we have to worry about. Not only is it harming sea life, but it’s also causing acidity in the oceans to rise (National Geographic) and global temperatures numbers continue to go up. The bleaching of the coral reef is a direct result, losing its vibrant colors and life, causing concern in environmental circles (Megan Gannon).
We humans, we are ultimately problem solvers, we fix things. Make them better and make the world a better place to live. I’ve often wondered, what it would take for people to look up and notice there might be a problem. Shouldn’t we take notice when the bees start disappearing? Or the monarchs? The simplest and most basic life forms on Earth are its most precious and vital resources. Ones we can’t afford to lose. When do we get serious about the place we rely on and call home? When do we decide to clean up after ourselves? When does any of this begin to matter? When the fires rage in California, or when the oxygen levels and pollution make it harder and harder to breathe? Is that when we’ll finally understand? Or maybe when the glaciers melt around Greenland and flood New Orleans and Mimi or even New York? (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) Is that when will we finally understand we need to change?
When do we begin to understand that there is a fundamental problem with the place we reside? We are the Earth’s last hope. If we won’t protect it, cultivate it, ensure it will be here for our children, who will?
As JFK once bravely asked, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”
We must be the ones to see green, to see all the colors of the rainbow – to wonder at the stars. To gasp at the sound of a rocket lifting off, the promise of tomorrow still ringing in my ears. Echoing further into tomorrow, a lasting memory. Harrowing, gnawing at me, to write these words. There are things I don’t want to forget, sights and sounds, regularities, little gems of this planetary paradise that I don’t want to fade from existence. I don’t want what we have now to become foreign and strange. We are an oddity, no, a rarity in all of time and space and every day we are losing more and more of that strange wild beauty that is fading slowly.
There is no alarm for climate change, no magical sounding bell that will cascade down from the heavens telling us that it might be time to change. Not just changing the ways we live, but living more efficiently and productively.
I don’t want to forget the sound of a gurgling stream, the sound of rain falling on my bathroom window. The sounds of locusts on a perfectly warm Summer’s night, the sounds of frogs croaking in a nearby pond. Birds signing in the afternoon light. Dancing fireflies, scattered throughout the darkening evening light, the wonder of a child at discovering a new bug or butterfly. That wonder should not just be for children, it should remain in us – wonder is just what we need right now. To reach for the stars and not just to wonder how they got there.
These are the things I want all people everywhere to experience, to be alone in the forest. One with nature. Observing the teeming and almost invisible life forms all around us. All necessary for the little ecosystems and the functions of life. The facts are, we share this planet with a variety of other creatures and insects, and if we won’t save it for ourselves maybe we’ll save it for them. The more we learn and study our planet and explore energy saving options and clean energy. The more we can certifiably augment our future and change the way we’re going; it’s going to be a better place. But if we keep using more and more resources the results could be catastrophic. We need to be givers, aiding the Earth, this needs to be a national, global precedent. But it starts with you, with a single decision to make the Earth a more habitable environment. We all can contribute; it is not one man’s problem to solve. It is all of us together that can make a difference.
Here are some ways you can help on a larger scale and in small everyday ways:
- Go electric and choose gas free modes of transportation. If you can’t do that carpooling is a great and fun option to help keep fewer cars on the road.
- Collect rainwater, you will be amazed at the quality of the water! Your plants will thank you too!
- Don’t use plastic water bottles. Bring your own reusable water bottle with you! Your wallet will thank you! (National Geographic says that 91% of plastic water bottles aren’t recycled and end up in massive landfills and in our oceans, which are causing abnormally high acidity levels in the Sea. If that’s not a sobering incentive not to use these awful plastics I don’t know what is.) Also bonus tip: Bring your own bags to the store instead and opt out of using single-use plastic straws. (Stores like Aldi’s don’t provide bags, which force you to bring your own and I think more stores should do the same.)
- Take a quiz and see what your ecological footprint here: (www.footprintcalculator.org/). Consider taking meat or dairy out of your diet, not only is it not healthy for you and hard on your digestion, vegetables can be easily grown and are very nutritious. Going vegan can reduce your carbon footprint by 70%!
- Shop brands and stores who are concerned about the environment and use Earth conscious materials. (Also buying cruelty-free beauty brands is a major plus too!)
- Pick up after yourself! Don’t be a litterbug! Littering is lazy and irresponsible, and I think we can do better! You can even go the extra mile and pick up trash around your neighborhood or school.
- Plant trees! Or better yet plant a whole garden! Not only are you helping the bees, but trees are also one of the most important pollination stops for bees. Look online for plants that aid pollinators like monarchs and honeybees.
- Start composting! This small action you can take every day that can cause a great positive change. Composting can cut your waste in half and be a fun way to watch nature at its finest. You can start a compost pile in your yard, or bin, save your coffee grounds, old food, greens, peelings, and eggshells. There are quite a few resources on how to compost online but those are just a few things you can compost. It’s gaining popularity in many circles and it’s quite good for the garden as well!
- When you wash your clothes, run the cycle on cold, it saves a ton of energy! Also, line drying your clothes saves energy and your clothes will smell sweet and clean!
- Vote for leaders and politicians that believe climate change is real. We need to acknowledge we do have an effect on the Earth.
“Cars, Trucks, Buses and Air Pollution.” Union of Concerned Scientists, www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/vehicles-air-pollution-and-human-health/cars-trucks-air-pollution#.W_3qP2aZPOQ.
Gannon, Megan. “The Great Barrier Reef Is ‘In for a Rough Ride.’” Scientific American, 21 Nov. 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-great-barrier-reef-is-in-for-a-rough-ride/.
“Global Surface Temperature | NASA Global Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 19 Feb. 2019, climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/.
“Ocean Acidification.” National Geographic, 18 July 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/.
“Ramp-Up in Antarctic Ice Loss Speeds Sea Level Rise.” NASA, NASA, 13 June 2018, www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7159.