Getting Accountable- Living Consciously
Glancing out my window I cringe. The long stretch of highway splits through the guts of earth. Falling rock signs warn drivers, but that’s not what shakes me. It’s the sense that my car is passing through rock beds meant to lay underground.
Environmentalists know of humanity’s impact on the Earth. We take it seriously. With or without terms like “Climate Change,” and “Environmental Crisis” I would still work to live as close to nature as possible.
I still have enough faith in humanity to recognize that most people are not malicious individuals sitting in a corner rubbing their hands together plotting how to harm the planet. When a population grows as vast as ours, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I myself often feel drowned out by the crowds, but that is why I am a naturalist.
I live for camping trips. Hiking and swimming takes away panic. Spotting deer, foxes, and coyotes reminds me of my responsibility to them. It also lends perspective.
To reach out to a broader audience and impart the necessity for environmental consciousness, we must come together. It’s not enough to scream: Climate Change! Then run around shaking fingers at everyone and expect governments that can barely engage in peace talks to save the world.
Shifting blame doesn’t resolve issues. Communities of people who ban together drive change.
The goal shouldn’t be convincing people of the problem; it should be getting them involved in the solutions. Big corporations produce a lot of waste. Let’s boycott them all. Grow our own food and/or buy local. Avoid fast-food companies with throwaway packaging, and retailers with unnecessary disposables. Use less energy by walking to places within three miles of our homes, run the air conditioning a bit warmer and the heater a bit cooler, or just turn them off whenever we can. Let’s support people who are making positive changes. Plant a tree or two.
If everyone did this it would make a sizable impact.
We cannot deny that everything has an impact. The outcome of the impact is what we dispute. Appealing to a broader audience will bring moderates together and present issues in a less sensationalist manner to convert deniers.
When I was a child the predictions of what the world would be like were very wrong, but what I do see are expanses of forests torn down for new housing, road-kill littering the sides of every street and highway, pesticide runoff, smog; more trash and less people enjoying their time outside.
It is painful to see, but looking to the past helps provide a broader perspective. Before I was born nearly every house in my city was built with ash pits for all the coal energy that people relied on. These pits still exist in some of the older homes, but they are no longer in use because people grew concerned about the grey skies and ashy clouds that blocked out the sun. They came together and pushed to develop technologies and pass better laws.
They recognized a problem and came together to fix it. They could see and feel their impact so they changed their ways.
We witness our impact every day. Driving to work I feel it. I see it. I also recognize more fuel efficient cars with fewer emissions. Volunteer groups are always picking up trash on road sides. City, state, and national parks remain untouched by modern society.
These truths show me that nothing is ever a lost cause. We have to recognize progress to give people the hope they need to keep looking for solutions.
Beyond the layers of defaced rock unfurl many roads. Some are maintained with as little negative impact as possible. Others are constructed quickly without consciousness of long-term destruction, but we all have a choice. Our specific individual actions and lifestyles always matter. The communities we inhabit matter. We can heal our ways and spread the balm on our world together, one simple action at a time.
About the Author: Jessica Baumgartner is a Wiccan mother of three, whose Pagan children’s books about diversity and acceptance have received critical acclaim and multiple awards. She has written for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Witches’ Voice, and more.