Earth Day 2020

Earth day is meant to be a celebration of our living planet, the interconnectedness of human and non-human living and non-living beings on this shared space called Earth, and our collective responsibility to this living, breathing entity.

Planet Earth V2
The word for ‘earth’ in 250 of the world’s spoken languages, on a Pacific-centred, South-up and equal area projection, taken from the Decolonial Atlas. If the South-up orientation throws you off (as it does me a little), check out this article on why (modern) maps are north-oriented.

While Earth Day is ostensibly a day to display images of cool beasties we share the planet with, and of grand vistas of ‘nature’ and exhort the need to protect it, we also need to realise that the ecology we share also means human and ‘nature’ are not separate entities, nor are human actions necessarily all ‘bad’ for ‘nature’. Rather, industry, or actions that pursue profit for the few to the (social and environmental) detriment of the many are scourging the Earth. There are qualitative and quantitative differences.

On the bright side, the price of oil has fallen drastically. The conveniences of fossil fuels has been a boon to many of us in the Global North (being able to drive around to pick my grandma up for a nice meal somewhere, to fly somewhere exotic with ‘pristine nature’ to take photos, to order something online from halfway around the world for half the price it would be otherwise etc.), but the cost of extracting it is borne by others who are invisible to us, and borne by us all in a changing climate though some still bear higher costs than others.

We are at crossroads now to make decisions for our collective future (still the few deciding for the many), do we struggle for a fairer, more just world for all human and non-human, living and non-living beings, and have an Earth that is worth living on and for, or do we continue prioritising comforts for the few over the many while encouraging everyone to pursue these riches too?

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