By: Liberty Paananen
Our home, Earth, is endangered by our everyday lives. It is terrorised by our civilization. A fact many of us are aware of. A fact that, admittedly, some of us are trying to counteract with small changes to our lifestyles.
In the last week, there have been a number of events and media stories which have prompted me to write this particular column.
There was a huge outcry of attention on social media, fuelled by indignation that the Western media was not covering the fires in the Amazon Rainforest which, had been ablaze for almost three weeks. The citizen journalism spread quickly, like the fires themselves and prompted the onslaught of news reports covering the facts. There were many dominating headlines which whilst catastrophic, resonated with me; “Mother Earth is Angry”, “What on Earth?” and even, “End of the World or Climate Change?”.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported 72,843 fires in the country, with more than half of them in the Amazon region. INPE also claim that an 80% increase in deforestation has occurred so far this year, in comparison with 2018. Figures which undoubtedly raise alarm.
The Amazon Rainforest is often referred to by scientists as the “lungs” of Earth; as the forests produce approximately 20% of Earth’s oxygen. The deforestation of this eco-system not only threatens human life but deletes precious, undocumented plant life and raises relocation and extinction worries for the wildlife that once called the Amazon their home.
In the same week, a wildfire in the Canary Islands forced more than 8,000 people to flee and, in Iceland, glacier Okjokull, which was declared dead in 2014, was commemorated with a plaque which reads:
“Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.
In the next 200 years all our main glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done.”
“Only you know if we did it.”
Below the dedication, the date of the ceremony and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air globally – 415 parts per million (ppm) is engraved.
Whilst the mainstream media has spotlighted Brazil this week, there were also almost 800,000 hectares of the Chiquitano forest burnt to ash in Bolivia – between 18th-23rd August. The Chiquitano forest was the largest healthy tropical dry forest in the world. A status experts are now unsure will ever return.
During July, there were wildfires across Siberia and NASA confirmed that;“By the end of that month the size of the fires had reached 2.6 million hectares
These are not just a bunch of facts. Not just a bunch of numbers, events or locations that are happening in the present. We are threatening the future. For not only the human race but for life on Earth. We need to change our mindset.
We need to be kinder. We need to stop thinking selfishly and start acting selflessly.
Our societies have been driven by numbers in the bank, the number of square feet in our homes, the names of the designers on our shirts and shoes, the number of likes, comments and retweets. Without thinking about our collective home. Without thinking and living consciously with the nature that is beneath our feet and the air that is inside our lungs.
There is no denying that the human race has advanced far beyond belief, whether that is in technology, in medicine, in transportation, earth and space bound. Yes, there are new discoveries day on day. But, now, we need to use our knowledge to change how we think, and how we behave to create harmony with Earth.
It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Climate Change; whether you believe some, or all of these wildfires were lit for political reasons, whether you think the Earth is entering a “Hot Age” like it did an “Ice Age”.
None of that matters. Like Icelandic author, Andri Snaer Magnason, wrote for the commemorative plaque: “We know what is happening and what needs to be done.”