In speeches and a recent article by the Prince of Wales, he said, “In the 800th anniversary year of the Magna Carta, perhaps this year's agreement of the new Sustainable Development Goals and a new climate agreement in Paris should be seen as a new "Magna Carta for the Earth, and humanity's relationship with it". Well, that’s a bit stuffy, but crowns to him for making it a big deal to save the Earth.
I like the sound of that and I bet the Earth does also. Being that the Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties is seen as the great document to freedom, including economic freedom and progress, revisiting such a benchmark for the Earth should have profound meaning. After all, these historical touchstones are the early allowances for us to raise standards of living through free enterprise and representative democracies that have been lord and master over economic growth and managing our human impact on the planet.
I’ve been fortunate, as the case may be, to witness first hand what changes in sea levels brought about by climate change are meaning to the Gulf Coast of the US. In a relatively short period of time, valuable wetlands that create buffer protection for humans and habitat for wildlife are disappearing at a phenomenal rate along the coast of Louisiana. If fact, about ninety per cent of all Gulf marine species spend all or part of their life cycle in these wetlands. Pretty important stuff, huh?
Predictions of coastal vulnerability as higher tides reach major coastal areas involve all of the US and the world for that matter at a time when populations are exploding along these seashores. Some folks shrug as though all of this is a common occurrence or some act of god, but destroying Earth’s bounty is not an inevitability of man’s relationship with nature.
Prince Charles is right to call for a close look at the cycle of life and why a human legacy of taking too much without paying a price is foolish. What is rather astonishing is how a protection of our ecosystem has been painted into political corners of left and right. The truth is nothing will be left if we don’t act right and right now.
Let’s take this down to the human level and away from the fancy words like sustainability and ecosystem services. People freak out when they see a blemish on their faces or have a fast heartbeat, never equating their vanity or personal care with that of a healthy planet. Why on Earth would any right thinking person intentionally destroy humankind’s most valuable assets? Would you allow a pimple to fester or show off a leg with gangrene at the beach? But we see no correlation with the localized death and decomposition of body tissue, resulting from either obstructed circulation or bacterial infection that faces vital organs of our planet. It rather gross to think in these terms and much more comforting to see a Disneyesque seascape or coastal area with thrill rides, shining condos and swinging discos which veil the reality of injuries to the big Mama.
Of all places, the US should be the global leader in protecting the environment. After all, natural resources have given us the riches to prosper and grow a standard of living that has been the envy of the world. So, where’s the payback? Are we actually going to just continue going down a path that says, “Well it costs too much for environmental protection to consider it?”. Is that going to be the fate of a people whose ingenuity has delivered scientific magic to the world? Are we going to allow political rhetoric to continue to paint the sad picture of buy more, eat more, consumer more, use more now as a natural order of life? These same folks have made any kind of environmentalism sound like thinking from a band of madmen in a cave, while they trip the light fantastic on Wall Street and Mainstreet rolling in the dough from paid for policy that strips the earth of her wonder.
800 years after the Magna Carta was signed we enter a new era where world challenges are magnified because of aggressive human consumption. We need to make peace with Mother Nature before her hammer comes down. You don’t have to go to the Arctic to see what's happening. The great reefs outside of the Florida Keys and their species are threatened.
Plastics bundles in massive formations fill our oceans.
Tracks of great wooded stands of forest that help us breathe by removing carbon from the air are being clear cut and wiped out. Wetlands are dying and the air we that we take into our lungs and the Earth’s has saturations of toxins.
It’s time to call a time out.
I have a friend who has a small paddle board business and everyday he goes out among mangroves and shorelines with his tours and collects plastics that have been tossed into the waters and, with little effort and energy, he amasses piles of junk that otherwise will kill marine life. We’ve heard stories of similar actions by individuals and school groups up and down the Mississippi River and along our shores. This represents a personal activism, a real deal with the planet. Let’s make this our norm and be dedicated to denying support to anyone who puts political, personal or monetary gain ahead of the needs of our environment. It’s time to quit being the enablers for those who build enormous wealth and power by perpetrating a cruel hoax that somehow we are less godly or American if we treat our planet with the respect she deserves for providing nourishment and safe harbor for us all.
Peace must begin with our planet and within before it can be extended beyond.