I’m in my early fifties and the older I get the more I’m trying to fix the planet. However, all my friends from school and college are going the other way. My peer group doesn’t give a £*€&. My closest friend of thirty years said to me yesterday “what’s the point, humans will all be dead in 300 or 400 years and then the planet will fix itself.” Back in the late 80’s we had ideological discussions. We wanted to rewild the Cumbrian Fells, an area of outstanding natural beauty but with very little biodiversity because of sheep. Now he doesn’t give a shit and he seems a lot happy than me as he pursues a hedonistic guilt free lifestyle.
You can't "fix" the planet it changes, it always has and it always will, humans can speed up some of those changes or possibly even slow them down, but to think we can stop the planet changing and hold it in what we consider perfection is seriously egotistical.
From the planets point of view runaway global warning is totally unimportant, there's been many mass extinctions before and there will be many more in future, each time a different biome appears. Without deaths we cannot have change or development. Quite possibly without mass extinctions there would still be trilobites swimming around and no vertebrates at all. For most of the earths history there have not been polar ice masses, the time we live in now is the exception not the rule. One of the most life rich epochs was the carboniferous when the global temperature was much higher than it is now, half the world was covered in shallow seas teeming with life and there was no polar ice. Sounds quite nice if you like Kevin Costner.
This is not to say we should dump all our rubbish into the sea, we still have to live here but to think that we can pause change is unrealistic. Campaigning against things like single use plastics, artificial fiber clothing dumping of rubbish, landfills etc certainly has value. Try to win the little fights, like getting better recycling installed in your area, or stopping a local place using plastic straws, Or indeed working on rewinding an area, but remember nature as we like it now is only around because areas have been managed for 1000's of years to suit us, birds and animals have adapted to our changes. I don't recommend camping out on the M25 however.
In my opinion instead of spending billions on trying to stop the inevitable we should be spending billions on mitigating the effects on us. The world has tons of land that isn't in use presently as it's to cold or to dry, but a heating world increases water supply and of course increases heat. Lets work out how NOT to have wars over the massive numbers of people who will need to move, and work out how to spread them to areas that need people, not cramming them into cities and countries that are already overpopulated.
So sorry this probably isn't the motivational pep talk you were looking for
Thanks Skandi. I hadn’t spoken to my friend for a long time and I was shocked at his analysis of my unhappiness. I mostly write about photography and not the environment, so the use of the word ‘fix’ was of course massively oversimplifying. You’re words about the planet are an encouraging reminder of the bigger picture, rather than the “humans will be extinct” narrative.
I haven’t felt like that but I can see how one could lose faith. I believe that you and I probably see permaculture as a lifestyle not just a way to grow food. I never grew anything until I happened upon one of Paul’s hugelkultur videos on a completely unrelated site. I don’t know any other way to live now.
I will admit I’m very disillusioned with the current state of recycling here. My first problem was seeing a landfill truck picking up garbage and recycling at the same time. I’ve been places with different bins for different recyclables but they are few and far between here. Then there are billboards saying, “When in doubt throw it out.” I’m in doubt about all of it at this point.
At the end of the day you have to live for yourself. Yes, you won`t save the world alone, and yes the planet is in a state of change always and will find a new stable state, not the same, maybe more resiliant.
More important is to hold onto your health. It is easy to make yourself ill worrying about the `bad guys`. I`m lucky in that I can don my pink glasses and not see the peeling wallpaper. Not everyone has that ability. I guess sometimes you have to take a stand, but I`d rather change the things I can, than worry about the things I can`t.
I long ago gave up on trying to save the world. I find more joy in focusing on making my piece of it better, so I concentrate on that. I have 80 acres that I own, improving the parts closest to my house and doing my best to preserve the rest. That's enough for me. Worrying about all the things I can't change just distracts me from improving the parts I can.
This reminds me of a letter I wrote to myself once. It went something along the lines of....
I wish I could stop noticing so much detail in things, to be like the rest that ignore most of their surroundings. I am always looking for a way to improve the things around me, sometimes this is exhausting. I do not want to change any one or myself for that matter, so it kind of creates like an anxiety type feeling. I usually just go about my day, but it always creeps back in to my thoughts.
I'm still doing my thing but I've long since given up on the idea of me being able to do anything meaningful to prevent pollution or keep water around. I do my 40 acres of swales and get all happy about the water collecting there and then the oil company buys water from the farmer down the road and pumps it out by the truckload. What did I actually do? Nothing.
Come join me at www.peacockorchard.com
Seriously? That's what you're going with? I prefer this tiny ad: