As we approach the 43rd Earth Day, we see that humanity has come a long way–and I mean that both positively and negatively. When the first Earth Day happened in 1970, people were barely beginning to wake up to environmental issues. Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring, had alerted us to the dangers of DDT, a pesticide with dangerous side effects to birds and other life forms. Deemed one of the best non-fiction books of the 20th century, it shocked people out of their slumber to realize our impact on the environment had a cost.
Now sustainability has become a buzzword, with hundreds of thousands of organizations formed to address some aspect of environmental damage. Awareness has risen, world conferences have happened, green technologies are well under way, recycling is taken for granted, and even corporations are beginning to green up their enterprises. Deep ecology has shown us that everything is connected. Gray industry is turning to Green innovation.
On the other hand, we’ve also come a long way in the level of harm to the planet. Climate is fluctuating around a dangerous edge, with carbon levels at 400 ppm, 50 more than what has been considered a precipitous point of no return, with expectations it may go up to 500ppm in the next 50 years.
Forests are disappearing; rivers are drying up; soil is turning to desert; food and water are becoming scarce; oil is running out-and so is our time to make change.
Creation and destruction have always happened simultaneously. We can’t have one without the other. The difference now is that both are happening faster than ever before. Which will prevail is an open question, one that depends quite literally on what we do today. For every day that passes without making change, we lose more options for the future. Our children and grandchildren will pay the price.
Four billion years of life’s evolution on Earth now rests in our hands. With power on a scale of Gods, we can change the climate, alter the gene pool, blow ourselves to bits, or create Heaven on Earth. The choice is ours.
We’ve been given the knowledge, through centuries of study; we’ve been given the tools, through advanced technologies; our infrastructure is already here—the roads and buildings and systems of coordination. We have only to determine the purpose for all that we’ve been given, and to get mobilized behind that purpose.
Our environment is the senior partner in the dance. We cannot survive without it. But even more, it is our lover, the sacred other in the relationship of culture and planet.
When that lover is acknowledged and honored; when both progress and sustainability are balanced; when our primary relationship with the world around us is healed from a paradigm of separation to one of co-creation and partnership, we have the capacity to create Heaven on Earth-not in some distant otherworldly place, not just on one particular day, but right here, right now, on this Earth Day, and Every Day.
Love and light.