Nature's Calling: Time To Pick Up

Article by Misha Patel 

I urge you to take a step back from your textbooks, pause note-taking in lectures, and quit thinking about tomorrow’s schedule for five minutes. Take five minutes to be thankful for what we have—and no, I’m not talking about your new iPhone X or pair of Jordans.

Breathe in the clean air, appreciate the trees that supply the clean air, and the fresh water running through our rivers. We should be grateful to have such fine natural resources available to us literally at the palm of our hands. You can go for a walk on a trail on the Western campus, fill your bottle up with clean water from a fountain, and admire natural scenery while studying. That sounds pretty great doesn’t it? Now what if I told you a few years from now, people won’t have the same experiences? Everyone has heard about climate change and the ongoing environmental crisis but many people don’t truly understand what that means.

Let me put this into perspective: for the little time humans have been on Earth, we have managed to nearly destroy the only planet in our solar system that contains life. We have increased species extinction to 1000 times the natural rate, poisoned our food and written books on deforestation. That wouldn’t be so distressing if our existence didn’t depend on those species, if the food wasn’t the cure to our diseases, and if that book wasn’t made from the same trees it was written about. We can see the signs. Our lives are paradoxes in which oceans are on fire, we have to wear masks just to breathe, and we throw our junk outside to make our house clean. Today, we can see the symptoms, so why should we wait until tomorrow to hear that they have developed into a cancer?  We take the Earth for granted like a child does their mother—not realising her value until she’s gone. How much longer are we going to lie to ourselves about this crisis?

Do we accept this future? When a doctor sees symptoms, he does not wait for them to worsen before beginning treatment— he starts it immediately. Why should we do any differently for the environment?

I was walking through campus one day and passed a puddle coated in oil. I stopped and saw other students pass me, realising the harsh reality: no one really cares and that’s the problem. When we hear news about hurricanes and flooding, our first priority is restoring the land, houses and resources, when we should be focusing on how to prevent these extreme weather patterns from happening in the first place. It’s time we stop treating the symptoms and start treating the cause. Garbage that missed the trash can, videos on Facebook about factory farming, and trees being cut down in your neighbourhood should be alarming—not something you blindly walk by or scroll past.

As the student population, we are studying and designing the future. That’s not something to take lightly. We have the power to leave our kids with the same trails we walk on and the same access to clean water we drink, yet we would rather focus on our short-term GPA. Now I’m not saying ditch the GPA, but actively make an effort to preserve our environment. Invest in a reusable water bottle. Take an environmental science course. Go vegetarian for a week—heck, go vegan. And most importantly, change your mindset about the environmental crisis. This is happening: it’s real, it’s scary. We all have a duty to try our best to protect it, because we owe that much to our planet. We are not apart from nature, but a part of nature and the day we realise that, is the day harmony can exist. We must abolish the mentality that someone else will save our planet and start accepting our responsibilities today, instead of depending on tomorrow. Change can only be achieved by us, but bringing us together starts with u.

Thank you for your five minutes.

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