As a global community, we are currently using 60% more resources than the earth can regenerate. The oceans are so severely overfished that a 2006 article in the journal SCIENCE predicts all the worlds fisheries will collapse by 2048. The scientific community is in consensus that we have reached a point of no return concerning the melting of the global ice caps. The effort to reign in universal carbon emissions stands in a precarious position, with the Trump Administration’s commitment to the Paris Accords a huge question mark.
It’s a complicated and ongoing problem: global poverty plays a huge role, and society at large has yet to come up with a truly compelling answer to this interplay of environmental and social concerns. How do you tell farmers in the amazon with no other way to make a living, that their clear cutting of the rainforest is essentially damaging the lungs of the planet? How do each of us continue to pay the bills and feed our families without using any harmful resources when we live in a structure that only provides us with harmful resources? Why does it so often seem like our own personal health and lifestyle is in conflict with what the planet needs for ecosystems to remain? Not everyone can afford an electric car. Not everyone can afford to stop fishing and get retrained or recertified for a different career. Not everyone has the option to stop eating fish. When seen through the lens of an individual, the colossal problems facing the environment currently can seem unsolvable. It is easy to get disheartened and overwhelmed, and we are not wrong to be worried. Global warming is happening now, and the time for thinking of these problems as abstract and distant is long gone.
Earth day has long been a dedicated time to stop and reconsider both our obligation to the earth and our environment, and our actual ability to affect change. Despite the overwhelming problems we are facing, we have a surprising amount of tools in our collective tool box. And a global perspective shift is an important tool to begin with. Things will change when we begin to see ourselves as part of the planet’s ecosystem, not in opposition to it. CEO of the environmentally friendly consumer product company Seventh Generation John Replogle succinctly put it this way:
“You can’t live a healthy life on a sick planet.”
When we are able to look at the global system more holistically, it is incredible to see how often the solutions for individual health and planetary health are the same. Renewable resources that lower green-house gas emission also lower pollution and clean up the air we all breathe. Organic growing practices not only spare the topsoil and runoff water from chemicals, but protect farm workers and consumers from exposure to those same toxic compounds. And yes, the same plants like hemp that can provide incredible individual health benefits by working alongside our body’s internal natural systems also grow sustainably, nourish and replenish the fields with needed nutrients and provide a plethora of sustainable fibers we can use to replace harmful compounds in our industrial world . (Hempcrete anyone?). Viewed through the lens of possible solutions, there is a beautiful synergy in the fact that what is good for the planet is good for us. And though the fight to
provide both this personal and global health where it is most needed can be daunting, the spirit of hope and resistance is a crop that has been seeded far and wide. From the ongoing protests at Standing Rock to the legions of scientists marching across the country today, there are strong voices helping this paradigm shift occur. On Earth Day 2017, we are honored to be counted as one of them.