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When I studied abroad in Nepal last year, my course objective was to communicate about the importance of conservation. Frankly, this is an easy task because Nepal is beautiful. Before my journey, I watched the 2015 film Sherpa, which explores the culture around summiting Mount Everest. It turns out, the Tibetan name for Everest is Chomolungma, which means ‘Goddess Mother of the World’ or ‘Goddess of the Wind.’ Because she is revered as a sacred goddess, Sherpas ask for permission before they summit the highest peak in the world. Chomolungma grants or denies their trek. 

The sentiment of respect and reverence found in Nepal strikes me as integral if our society is to live in harmony with nature. We need to remember that the Earth is our mother, and if we are unkind to her, she will strike us down. I know that’s tough love, but so is the U.S. government subsidizing fossil fuel companies that monetize clean air, water, and human livelihood.

This April was Earth Month, which also hailed the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. All around the world, activists held online webinars and events to spread awareness about the dangerous situation we have arrived at by selfishly exploiting the earth. Among other concerns, irreversible anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction are here to knock on our door. Unfortunately, it’s getting worse every year, and that makes it much more difficult to protect our wildlife.

These are things we need to address as a society. But because it’s Mother’s Day, let me take this time to appreciate my mother. She’s 4.5 billion years old, and still looking out for me. 

All life on earth arose from a common ancestor. Overall, it’s estimated that there are about 8.7 million species on Earth, but we’ve only classified 13.8 percent. And that number is only the tip of the evolutionary iceberg: many species that once existed are now extinct (think Triassic dinosaurs or the Yangtze river dolphin circa. 2002).

Billions of years are required for a species to evolve and exist on earth right now in 2020. Up until the last 200,000 years, there were no modern humans, and microbes, fungi, plants, and animals thrived and died in a circle of life, all by themselves.

Now with 7.8 billion humans to support, Mother Earth has been dealing with a lot of extra stress. Ozone holes, clear-cutting, coral bleaching, invasive species, oil spills, trash islands, mountaintop removal, poaching, disease — there’s a lot on her plate right now. 

And despite the burden of our socioeconomic systems, our mother maintains her own pride and perfection. She gives us potable water, breathable air, crops and livestock, vaccines and cures, breathtaking views, and the most exquisite variations of life. She’s our only home.

Because of all that is happening on our planet, this year, more than ever, respect your mother. Do the dishes, make her breakfast, spoil her with gifts she never bothered to get for herself. Take the time you’re quarantined at home to appreciate the world that we have. Donate to conservation funds. Speak up to your politicians about climate change when they choose to deny its existence or make you a profit margin. Do this, because if not, we will lose the things that make Earth a great place to live. In my lifetime, we’ll lose what I love most about living here.

Sophia Chapin

George Mason University '21

Sophia Chapin is a senior Environmental Science major at George Mason University. You can find articles from her on climate change and eco-friendly living.
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