“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. It is not only a mirror of ourselves, but a focusing lens on what we can become.” –Lady Bird Johnson
Lately I feel as though I’ve gone mad.
From the moment I wake up in the morning to my last foggy thought as I drift to sleep at night, I am consumed with the environmental dilemma that grips our globe, at this very moment.
Yes, right now, as I’m writing, climate change has befallen our fragile planet that we once thought so invincible. It’s undeniable. Extreme weather is becoming more extreme and alarmingly common, and heat records are being broken annually. As we expand, populate, use, discard, and emit, Earth’s remaining unprotected wildernesses recede and species die faster than we can save them.
The more I write Viridorari and envelope myself in the environmental news, the more I think I’m not doing enough. This is why I’m so consumed by this issue. My parents and close friends might tell me I’m being too hard on myself, but deep down I know I’m not. I refuse to sit by idly and twiddle my thumbs while the only planet available to live on dies a slow and torturous death. They might also tell me that I’m more concerned about the environment than the average person, and I should feel good about that. Reassured.
That’s exactly what scares the hell out of me.
There are still people who don’t regularly recycle. There are still people who deny climate change, even in our educated, developed country, despite the glaring truth. Then, there are those of you who do recycle. I congratulate you. That’s a great first step, but what’s next? Do you think recycling is enough to wash your hands of the environmental crisis?
What about the unshakable dependence on cars, even for a paltry one mile trip to the corner store? What about the American average of 4.5 pounds of garbage produced per person, per day? What about our homes, heated and powered by non-renewable, greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels? What about our habitual, thoughtless purchasing of foods and products shipped hundreds, even thousands of miles at the expense of the environment?
It’s enough to drive a person, like me, irreversibly bonkers. I have become painfully conscious of the fact that an alarming percentage of actions I perform daily are directly or indirectly harming my local and global environment.
Lady Bird Johnson is absolutely correct. The Earth, the environment, is the one thing we all have in common, that we all depend on.
But how many of us are willing to productively alter our lifestyles that we’ve become so accustomed to? How many of us are willing to raise our voice, to ring the bell? How many of us are willing to drop everything for a day, a week, or longer to protest, to be civilly disobedient, in a direct action to impede further environmental damage? The Keystone XL pipeline, for example.
I’m only just getting to that point. Viridorari was the first step. I wanted to raise the alarm, to educate, to assist people in their efforts to live greener, and hopefully learn something along the way about myself. I have now realized that Viridorari was just a doorway.
Now, I’m signing three to five petitions a day with the help of organizations like Moveon.org, 350.org, the Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and more. I’m writing letters to business owners, lawmakers, and political leaders. I attended my first ever rally in my state’s capitol to protest fracking in New York. When my family has a yard sale next month, I will use it as an opportunity to fundraise for Viridorari’s Animal of the Month. Now, I’m even planning to host my very own awareness-raising civil disobedience event.
Yet, I dream of travelling to the front lines of the KXL Pipeline and physically stopping its advance with civil disobedience. Gandhi liberated his nation with peaceful resistance. Just imagine what we could do for the environment with his historical methods.
When it comes down to it, I have a handful of reasons why I can’t go to the KXL’s ground zero. I know none of them are truly valid excuses, but I just can’t muster myself to overcome them. I just got a job. I could get arrested; how would that affect my college career? (Never mind that my college and its community would most likely commend me for such an action). It’s so expensive to travel. What about my family, my friends?
I know that money and a college degree won’t matter in a destroyed world. In my heart, I know the front lines are truly where I want to be, where I belong. How will I feel about the decisions I made today years from now when I can’t take my kids outside because of extreme weather, heat, pollution, and/or UV radiation? I hope that never happens.
The truth is, recycling is a great step, but it’s not enough. We’re behind on this battle. Way behind. We all need to make changes, every single one of us, if we have any hope of reversing our damages and reviving our planet, and we need to do it now, without holding back. The consequences of continuing as is are too enormous and frightening to consider. We all need to be willing to ditch our cars as often as possible, to alter our lifestyles to exclude waste and include thriftiness; to join a protest at the cost of a day or two of work or school; to devote our minds, bodies, and spirits to cleaning, replenishing, and protecting our Earth.
Because, what do we have if we don’t have a livable planet? Certainly not a heartbeat.
So, yes, Mom and Dad. I care and do more than the average Joe. But until I’m living as sustainably as I can manage, and a majority of my fellow humans are doing the same, there’s work to be done. This is going to be a Herculean effort, but it can be made easier with the help of many hands. So, I’m going to try my hardest to be Hercules, or perhaps Atlas is more fitting, since he holds the planet on his shoulders. Feel free to take your share of the weight anytime; if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem (thanks for that, Dad).
Writing is my passion, my go to, my greatest talent. The environment is the cause I’ll change my life for, the cause I’ll go to jail for, the cause I’ll die for. Writing, like it was for Gandhi and Rachel Carson, and like it is for Bill McKibben, will be my vessel for change. I may not be ready to drop everything just yet, but I’m working toward it.
Are you ready to change too? To do more? Stay with Viridorari; my posts will help you find big and small ways to live greener. Need more? Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll answer your specific questions and help you become more active. Follow me on Twitter (@Viridorari) to stay up to date with environmental current events and action opportunities.
Until next time, internet travelers; become green and stay green.