I haven’t much paid attention to Earth Day for a number of years, though I am usually involved in a weekend habitat restoration event loosely tied to the date. But Earth Day lost its real magic for me years ago when it became “incorporated” into popular corporate culture. The “green” cloak that some businesses don as Earth Day sponsorship is a thinly veiled ploy to misdirect and mislead people about the nature of their true intentions.
In other companies, leaders may have true concerns about the rapid destruction of the environment. Yet even they can’t seem to help themselves when environmental issues get in the way of business. Corporations are chartered to make money, and their captains often work for profit and to create for themselves a very comfortable and powerful lifestyle. When push comes to shove, they work hard and spare no expense to get environmental concerns brushed aside if they stand in the way of “progress.”
Governmental agencies and civic administrations easily fall prey to idolizing the gods of economic growth. After all, they are charged with the welfare of the citizens in the town or county they serve. That welfare often translates into getting more money in the coffers. This money, however, is often earned at the expense of exploiting the environment, the people, or both. True sustainability is apparently not compatible with the “growth” that is required in our current economic system.
With so much power and money stacked on the side of “economic growth,” environmental destruction goes on unabated, even to the point of permanently damaging our climate. The effect of this rampant growth mentality kills people, causes wars, destroys property and livelihoods, pollutes the very air we breathe and the water we drink – and will ultimately make our planet uninhabitable for us.
Some people wring their hands, but keep supporting run away economic growth. Under capitalism, this growth represents the best chance for “the good life” that drives the desires of so many. That is why we continue to put up with an economic system that collapses every few years while destroying the earth and increasingly impoverishing most of the people it supposedly serves.
In my view, another economic system has to evolve quickly if we are to survive. Some economists have begun to write about economic systems based on a different set of values: Recognition of the interdependent nature of life; Concern for the welfare of all others; and Protection the common heritage of all life. Clean air. Clean water. Clean soil. Complete, functioning ecosystems.
Remember the Earth? She is our Mother.