Earth Day About People (Not Just Earth)

Angry Toxicologist makes a good point about Earth Day:

What’s wrong with Earth Day?

The name, for one. Earth day. Protecting mother earth. Saving the environment. What’s wrong with these? They’re all about the earth. No humans mentioned. For a day that’s supposed to highlight the damage we are doing and to energize some action, it’s woefully off the mark. The degredation of the environment is harmful for people, this is what matters. Doubtless, there are those who care about the environment for the environment’s sake. You are entitled to your value but let me tell you that the majority of humanity does not share your outlook. They majority may, however, agree with the same means and ends with different a different ‘why’. Concerns for human health, recreation, and preservation of our natural heritage for culture’s sake can cover the same ground and the tent of ‘environmentalists’ can pretty much be expanded to include a vast majority of Americans.

I expect that most of us who consider ourselves environmentalists care about the condition of water, air, and ecosystems because we know people’s lives depend on them. Maybe we should rename this annual holiday Health Day, in recognition of the fact that human health is inextricably linked to the health of our environment.

Comments

  1. #1 Tasha
    April 22, 2008

    100% true. Thanks for pointing this out.

    I get so frustrated by the arguments regarding climate change (for example). Who cares if it exists or doesn’t exist, if it’s man-made or a natural event… In the end that part doesn’t matter. We still consume too much, pollute too much and are doing serious damage to the planet and our own personal health. If there are solutions out there – ranging from using fluorescent light bulbs to setting up wind power plants – why are we fighting it?

  2. #2 BrettB
    April 23, 2008

    I once had a great discussion with a conservative from Denmark on a plane on this issue- and its spot on. It’s what i always tell people when they question global warming: It’s not about climate shift and its not about science(IT IS!), but it’s about sustainability and what we should be doing anyway. It’s good business, but not for the people who run business now, and right now they got the power, they got the media, they got the means of production- BP has been touting how much they invest into clean energy, and now the candidates are talking about some meaningless(by comparison to what we spend to blow shit up) investment we’re going to make. In the coming few months we’re gonna see BOTH sides saying its a good idea, but untill people in cities and towns force the local governments to push it locally then we aren’t going to see the massive changes. If you change the local, it becomes such a pain in the ass for the federal that they have to do it.

    I’m a Pennsylvanian and we had a viewing party for that pathetic attempt of a debate a week or so ago- there was one real question about the economy, and they didnt mention Gamesa- possibly the ONLY sustainable energy company rendell has brought to pennsylvania

    renaming a holiday wont do anything- discover the solutions at the local level and force it to move to the country, then to the state, then to the federal, cuz as much as these guys yell about it from the pulpit, all 3 of em this cycle- theyre gonna need something to run on 4 years

    Theres my rant on that.

  3. #3 mongrel
    April 24, 2008

    My issue with angry toxicologist’s argument is that, as a species, we spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about our own comforts and gluttonous pleasures. I don’t really see a problem with spending one day a year honoring something other than homo erectus.

    The “Earth” being celebrated isn’t, to my understanding, anyway, the sphere of rock that’s covered with water and surrounded by gases. It’s the sum total of that and the millions of species of living things who, I’m sure, would appreciate it if humans stopped to think once a year about the devastation we’ve caused.

    The past couple hundred years of nearly complete disregard for the other residents of the planet is why we have to designate a special day for humans to think about ways to lessen our destructive impact. Had our self-importance and lust for consumption not risen to such levels of lunacy, we wouldn’t need such a day.

    No one argues that the effects of our actions are generating human health problems on a massive scale. But if we can’t get our collective act together, the human race will find itself on the brink of extinction. And “Mother Earth” and the remainder of the species who live on her, will be glad to see us go.