This Earth Day, I am lucky to enjoy one of the most thriving, preserved places on Planet Earth, and the health, joy, and ease of life that comes with it — but for billions of global citizens, this is not the case. Celebrating the Earth’s beautiful wonders would be incomplete without discussing the places that are sacrificed so that others can be conserved — putting human rights, justice, and equity at the heart of our cause for a better world.
For the global minority of us who are all relatively untouched by this society’s cancerous legacy of poverty, famine, poisoned lands, climate emergencies, and violence over ownership of our rights, lands, and resources, the fight for our environment is a privileged cause. But we are starting to see in paralyzing, indisputable ways, the interconnectedness of the world we all share — as pandemics cross continents, the climate catastrophe engulfs the globe, and ‘distant’ problems of poverty, political impotence, and suffering, spread swiftly through the Earth system to afflict us all.
The unfortunate reality is that conservation in tandem with a society inherently reliant on toxic practices breeds tremendous inequality— where it is a huge privilege, not a basic human right, to enjoy a safe, supportive environment. Our rise to unprecedented luxury is propelled by the involuntary sacrifice and dispossession of the billions who carry this society’s toxic weight — our attachment to fossil fuels, polluting industry, and voracious material consumption, must end. Achieving a truly conserved world will mean creating one where we don’t pollute, destroy, or poison to begin with — where technology works in harmony with nature, and “progress” aligns with the health and prosperity of all beings. It will mean overcoming hideous legacies of soul-crushing poverty and lopsided development, discrimination, and injustice, and in the end, creating a better, more evolved world for all.
This Earth Day, I hope we can think not only about the planet we live on, but all we share it with — and how we can transform our global society to be more just and cognizant of all we are connected to in this world. We may not feel like we as individuals have the power to save an entire planet — but we can all be mindful, compassionate, connected, act with love, and consider our important role in the giant, interconnected system we ALL call home.