Environment Day? Triage Day? The holiday needs more than a new name
Affection for our planet is misdirected and unrequited. We need to focus on saving ourselves.
I have a new piece in Salon: “Let’s dump ‘Earth’ Day.” It is supposed to be mostly humorous. Or mostly serious. Anyway, the subject of renaming Earth Day has been on my mind for a while.
I don’t worry about the earth. I’m pretty certain the earth will survive the worst we can do to it. I’m very certain the earth doesn’t worry about us. I’m not alone. People got more riled up when scientists removed Pluto from the list of planets than they do when scientists warn that our greenhouse gas emissions are poised to turn the earth into a barely habitable planet.
The earth is certainly not important enough to qualify for an ABC debate question. Who wears an Earth lapel pin? Arguably, concern over the earth is elitist, something people can afford to spend their time on when every other need is met. But elitism is out these days. Only bitter environmentalists cling to Earth Day. We need a new way to make people care about the nasty things we’re doing with our cars and power plants. At the very least, we need a new name.
How about Nature Day or Environment Day? Personally, I am not an environmentalist. I don’t think I’m ever going to see the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I wouldn’t drill for oil there. But that’s not out of concern for the caribou but for my daughter and the planet’s next several billion people, who will need to see oil use cut sharply to avoid the worst of climate change.
I used to worry about the polar bear. But then some naturalists told me that once human-caused global warming has completely eliminated their feeding habitat — the polar ice, probably by 2020 — polar bears will just go about the business of coming inland and attacking humans and eating our food and maybe even us. That seems only fair, no?
Read the whole article in Salon here.
Get Grist in your inbox