It is true that the earth is what we all have in common–spoken once by Wendell Berry, a novelist and an environmental activist. The earth is what makes everything alive and through her services, human civilizations were able to flourish and thrive. But since the advent of industrialization in 1670s, humans seem to forget the role they play and services they have to render in return for the hospitality of our mother nature. According to the concept of Planetary Boundaries, we are now entering the stage of Anthropocene, a new geological epoch wherein humans became the main driver of environmental conditions. In this epoch, efforts to develop sustainably and massive information drive is needed to pose awareness especially to the young people, who are perceived as more proactive over the issues in environmental status quo.
Young people seem to be the change-makers of old people’s miscalculation of their footprints. And speaking of footprints, humans have reached to a point where the carbon emitted exceeds the CO2 sequestration that our world can do in a year. These have caused anomalous climate patterns around the world, acidifying of oceans, the much publicized global warming, and many more. In the Living Planet Report 2014 of the WWF, it stated that our demand for renewable ecological resources, the goods and services they provide, is now equivalent to more than 1.5 earths. Not to mention, that lots of countries today whose footprint exceeds their biocapacity is steadily increasing causing competition that affect people and the system significantly. These are only parts of a bigger picture that young people will be looking at as they face the detriments of today’s social-ecological system.
This year is a ’now or never’ opportunity for global action. The limit of time is knocking on our doors waiting for our swift action. Young people need to be sparks that needs no ignition to inspire other people to do things with passion and determination as they battle human arrogance. As youths, we should be proactive in addressing local environmental issues for global cause. The community around is where we start to spark ideas and diversify the solutions, which could be voiced out for greater collective action. This is what ‘integrate knowing with doing’ should be defined – young people thinking globally and acting locally. The bottom-up approach could lead to increased social spheres and networks that strengthen the leadership of young people in making better choices and reduce footprints with environmental and socio-economic benefits in national level. We can be everything for the humanity, for the animals, and for our home. In our own community, we start to spark and this creates chains of reaction with other places to engender a current of change to divert humanity’s course. It can’t be easy, but it can be done.
Accepting that we are all connected, as what Barry Commoner emphasized in his book Closing Circle, helps us to better understand the needs of protecting both the people and our home, the planet. It is inherent for humanity to have the right to development and to natural resources, but we should also acknowledge the rights of our Mother Nature – to life and to exist, to be respected, and right to integral health. Social system was never possible without nature, in the same way natural system can’t exist without society.Borrowing the words of Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, he said:
Things look so worrying that it may seem difficult to feel positive about the future. Difficult, certainly, but not impossible – because it is in ourselves, who have caused the problem, that we can find the solution. And it is by acknowledging the problem and understanding the drivers of decline that we can find the insights and, more importantly, the determination to put things right.
In order for us young people to effectively address the problem, we must learn to acknowledge it. Anyway at the end, we will all reap the benefits of our actions despite of what race we came from, country we belong in, and social strata we go along with. Our love for Mother Nature binds us all in attaining an epoch-making goal and that is true to what Wendell Berry have said, that the earth needs the utmost protection in today’s environmental crises, as she is everything’s home.