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What to think about on Earth Day

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Posted on: 22 Apr 2020
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Earth Day is about taking care of our home. Because without it, there is no us.

Today, we celebrate our shared home: Earth. 

Referring to the famous Pale Blue Dot photograph of Earth from 6 billion kilometres away, American astronomer Carl Sagan said: “That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives ... To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

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That’s what Earth Day is about: taking care of our home. Because without it, there is no us. We are entirely dependent on the natural resources and life-giving ecosystem services that this planet provides in such abundance and with such splendour. 

The free-flowing rivers from which we drink, the nutrient-rich soils from which we eat, the clean and clear air from which we breathe, and the variety of plant and animal life from which we give meaning to our societies and economies. All of it, the Earth has given us. 

And what have we given the Earth? Pollution, deforestation, mass extinction, climate change. Looking at the state of the world, it is clear that the only thing we are giving is giving in to greed, gluttony and an unhealthy obsession with economic growth.

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But as our economies stop during this global quarantine and nature gets to breathe again, we’re seeing birds and animals returning to cities and spaces that they’ve been pushed from. This has led some people to say that “humans are the virus” – but this is not true, at all.

It’s important to remember that we are a part of nature, we are not apart from nature. 

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Everything is connected, which means that the damage we are causing to the natural world is damage that we are causing to ourselves. And similarly, we are the only ones who can heal the damage we have caused. 

If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how beautiful and remarkable the world can be if we start treating Earth-like the home that it is. It has made it evident that we need to replace this culture of capitalism, which prioritises profit above people or planet, with a culture of sustainable development, which balances economic prosperity with social justice and healthy ecosystems. 

This is something we spoke about in the third session of our free SD webinar series, where we look at the impacts of COVID-19 on sustainable development. Our next session is this Friday 24th April with guest expert, Nikiwe Solomon, an environmental scientist at UCT. Feel free to sign-up now!

In the meantime, have a wonderful Earth Day, and remember we live in a wonderful world!

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Written by Cris Robertson, Sustainability Learning Designer at Valenture Institute.

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