The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been in the global spotlight for the last few months and it seems to continue affecting our lives with no end in sight. What we see, hear, and talk about every day is almost all about the virus. But hey... the coronavirus is not the only problem we are facing now; in fact, we have thousands of other unsolved problems in this world today! My intention isn't to incite fear and anxiety among us but to prepare us for the post-coronavirus world. I want to cast light on just one of many currently-forgotten problems: the environmental crisis. In this article, I am going to briefly discuss it from a philosophical rather than scientific point of view.
What do you think are the top 3 environmental issues?
When asked this question, many will probably think of issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss or categories referred to as planetary boundaries. But let’s get more radical here. Here's a quote from Gus Speth, an American environmental lawyer and advocate:
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy.”
Did it catch you off guard? If you think about it, today’s environmental crisis really does originate in our selfish, greedy, apathetic attitude—we dare to invade other species’ habitats such as oceans and forests for our own sake; we keep extracting fossil fuel from the ground only to keep our lives convenient without thinking too much about the consequences; and we say we care about these issues, but only when we see sensational news and documentaries.
Perhaps, the environmental crisis is deeply rooted in our human nature, hence making it much more of a personal issue than you think it'd be for a social issue.
Now, what does it mean to be “successful” to you?
Being successful in the western world today may come in different forms but it almost always has something to do with money and social achievements—that's capitalism at its finest. When we look at ourselves, our thought process is—very unfortunately—also “capitalized” under such conditions. That’s to say, we subconsciously measure our self worth by our performance and productivity, never really by our being itself.
But is this really what being successful should be all about? David Orr, an American environmental activist, challenges this idea in his book, Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect:
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs more people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.”
So... what is your definition of being successful in life? How do you want to be successful in the future? Do you want to be successful even when you have to disregard the well-being of other species or the environment?
You know what, many of us seem to be sound asleep when it comes to the environmental crisis that’s going on at the moment—more so during this pandemic. But it’s about time we woke up. Our life is forcibly getting transformed due to the coronavirus anyway; don’t we want to live a better lifestyle than the one we had in the pre-coronavirus world? That's why we should talk about environmental crisis NOW. [bf_image id="q59iwr-eo6pbk-z6u4e"]
Gus Speth finishes his above-mentioned quote as follows:
“...to deal with these [issues] we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
Then who knows how to do that? Each of us should ask our heart for the answer.