I am a lover of the outdoors and all things nature (except mosquitoes; I hate those little bastards). While I haven’t exactly hugged any trees, I climbed a lot of them when I was a kid and played outside any chance I could get until the invention of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. However, if I am to be honest with myself, the conservation of this great planet and its current state of affairs has never been as high a priority in my life as it probably ought to be.
Whether it be Styrofoam, alkaline batteries or dog poop I am not great at making the effort to properly dispose of potentially harmful substances. I will give myself credit for not carelessly discarding obsolete electronic devices, though. I keep most of them tucked away in the storage spaces of my house or garage, convinced that in the future, when the zombie apocalypse hits, I may be able to assemble some sort of time machine out of the harvested parts and go back to create an antidote. At the very least, they will provide heavy objects I can hurl at the heads of the lumbering monstrosities that mean to eat my brains. Kudos to me.
Over the past several years, I have become much better about shutting things off around my house. But again, if I am honest, this revolutionary measure in my lifestyle is rather self-centered. It has more to do with saving money than the planet. Or maybe it’s just a natural parental instinct and the old man inside of me is longing for an opportunity to shout at my children, “You think money grows on trees? Turn the lights off when you leave the room!”
When it comes down to it, I think that’s how most people think. The drive to keep the Earth as a sustainable place to live isn’t about doing what’s right. It is, essentially, about saving ourselves. Even the hardcore environmentalists are trying to make changes because they realize that if we screw this place up badly enough, we are out of a home. At its base, it’s about the survival of the species.
Earth is like the really good restaurant or bar right in our neighborhood. It’s close, we’ve been enjoying it for years, it has great food and the atmosphere is outstanding. We’re comfortable there. When the atmosphere changes and instead of a laid back crowd, a bunch of younger, loud-mouthed douche bags start hanging around in it, the atmosphere starts to suck and we don’t want to be there anymore. We go to a different establishment even if it’s less convenient.
When it comes to our planet, the problem is, it’s the only place like it. There is no other establishment, and no current reasonable means of transportation to even look for one. Earth is the only joint in town.
I really believe that if there were another planet with an atmosphere hospitable to human life and we had the means of transporting everybody there, we would jump on it. We would probably already be colonizing it with cool, futuristic buildings where all the residents wore shiny, metallic-looking clothing and drove around in flying cars while their robot butlers tended to chores around the home. But unless I really start getting serious about tinkering with the old parts from my obsolete electronic devices, transportation to another life-sustaining planet is not in the foreseeable future.
And so, the best I can really do today on Earth Day is to offer an apology. I am sorry, Earth. I am sorry for how I have taken you for granted. I’m sorry for all the things I have allowed to get tossed into landfills and I am sorry that I have not taken the time to appreciate all your wonders. Maybe I ought to jump into my car right now and drive across the country, spewing exhaust into the air in order to see all the magic that you offer.
Of course, the Earth will still be here no matter what we do. So I suppose I ought to say that I am also sorry to my fellow human beings. I am sorry for my past, present and, no doubt, future indiscretions against this hospitable atmosphere. I am sorry for purchasing all those super awesome new devices whose production only contributes to the ongoing destruction of the planet’s atmosphere. When our entire species has been killed off, I will gladly take my share of the blame.