“Careful with the compulsive purchases; we need to save our planet!”
The planet doesn’t need saving. Earth has been there way before humans existed and will continue to spin after we’re gone. The truth is: it’s us who are in danger.
It’s us who won’t survive extreme heat and cold. It’s us who won’t survive radiation. It’s us who will perish due to poisoned food and water.
Earth, however, will survive.
Even if world leaders decide to push the red button and nuke each other’s populations, Earth will survive. Sure, the planet will turn into a toxic rock full of holes, but it’ll survive. Again, we won’t — and we don’t even need a nuclear war to wipe ourselves out.
We’re already self-destructing, slowly but surely.
No, you won’t see any research references proving that most of the planet will become inhabitable within less than 40 years if we maintain our self-destructive behaviors. Yes, 40 only years before people start to get flooded and drought to death — not to mention pollution and diseases that can make COVID-19 look like a cute joke. But hey, look on the bright side. You’ll likely be alive to witness and post it on social media.
Until then, let’s keep doing what we do best: look the other way.
I know. The last couple of months have been intense. Between a pandemic, lockdown, unequal justice, crashing economy, and mind-boggling US elections, I can’t blame us for being busy. But does that justify overlooking mass extinction?
I know you care about what’s coming. You’ve watched videos of burning forests, plastic-filled oceans, and devastating hurricanes. You’ve read about carbon emissions and the greenhouse effect. I also know that you’ve genuinely cared for a few seconds before your interest got washed away by sexier events.
Maybe it was a raging tweet from you know who that got your attention. Perhaps it was the trailer of your favorite show’s new season that distracted you. Maybe it was an order-one-get-two ad that washed your memory. I know because I’m like you.
We both care about celebrities cheating on each other more than world leaders ditching international treaties. We care about rich people building a $42 million clock on a private mountain more than struggling volunteers planting trees to fight deforestation. We care about the features of a Lamborghini we’ll never buy and a MacBook we don’t need more than scientific predictions that impact our children.
Why? Because this stuff is more exciting. Seriously, who wants to take the burden of preserving human life? Isn’t it better to just assume someone will save us at some point? Maybe it’s God, maybe Aliens, or maybe Biden — I mean, someone should solve this problem, right? Or better, what about pretending that climate change is a conspiracy? Let’s make some memes about it instead — shall we?
You see, humans are intresting creatures. We can be super smart, get to the moon, and beyond. At the same time, we can be stupid to the point where we overlook problems that threaten our very existence. We seek shelter in denial and distractions. We convince ourselves that everything is fine. We flood our brains with irrelevant info. We spend our days swimming in oceans of memes and videos. Our favorite sport has become running away from reality — from responsibility.
Responsibility, right? An intresting game to play: “Whose fault is this?”
The fuel industry is the first one to blame, right? These people are making money by stripping Earth from its resources. Shame on them. Also, hey, what about these tech companies that make millions of electronics that either break or get old-fashioned within six months? These scammers are filling the surface of our planet with junk that dies prematurely. Greedy bastards. What about food companies, though? Someone should stop them from wasting millions of water gallons to make empty calories filled with sugar and chemicals.
It’s satisfying, isn’t it? Blaming others, I mean.
We enjoy blaming each other so much that those who represent us at international debates have also joined the party. “How dare you burn coal and oil all day long, dear developing countries?” Western leaders would ask. “We’re simply following in your footsteps, dear developed nations. You’re condemning what you were doing some years ago. Hi there, hypocrisy.” The rest of the world would answer. From time to time, an unexpected young figure would show up and do a great job calling out the international bullshit. “How dare you?” She’d ask, and we’d applaud. Then, she’d go back to school. We’d forget she ever existed, and, more importantly, we’d forget what she pointed out.
The show goes on, and you’re probably watching some of it. Oh, look, it’s Black Friday — yet another exciting episode. Except, you’re not only watching this one, but you’re also at its center.
I get it. You need that fancy microwave; yours is getting old. That promotion on sneakers is irresistible. A PlayStation 5 will make your kids happy. I understand — I’m like you: missing out on sales feels like a loss for me too. And just like you, I blame governments and industries for encouraging me to buy more and pollute more.
But the truth is something else. Something we all know deep inside but keep on suppressing.
The problem isn’t the industry or governments. The problem is you and I: Consumerism, laziness, lack of awareness, taking resources for granted — you name it. Industry and governments are merely reflections of our behaviors. They go where the money and public interest are. So if it’s in compulsive shopping and entertainment that we’re after, rest assured they’ll provide.
By now, you’re probably expecting solutions. “Do this, read that, listen to this, and you’ll save the world.” Or, at least a little hope “Don’t worry, friend, it’s a global issue, the world will rally together and solve it. We’ve got this!”
I’m sorry I didn’t type some words to make you feel better about the upcoming mass extinction you and I are provoking. I won’t list some tips that you’ll enjoy reading but never apply either. I have only one thing to tell you.
Look at what you’re doing today. Look at what you’re doing every day.
Because everything you do matters — everything. It’s you who decides what route the industry should take — what you consume defines markets. It’s you who elect the leaders responsible for global decisions. It’s you who manifests if these leaders mess up. It’s you who adopts a cleaner way to take care of your waste. It’s you who choose what’s worth watching and what’s worth posting.
It’s not them, not me, not anyone — you, just, you. You decide — and you decide through what you do every single day.
Your behavior literally dictates the future. Your behavior determines if we live or die — if our children live or die. It’s scary as hell, but it’s true.
The planet doesn’t need you. You need you.
And you need you more than you need most of the things that you’re about to buy. But you’ll forget all about the future as soon as you browse the promotion bouquets that are waiting for you both on your phone and across the street if you’re lucky enough to be able to walk outside.
You’ll forget every word you’ve read in this post. But if you want to remember something, remember this:
“The planet will survive, we won’t — and buying stuff you don’t need won’t help.”
Happy Black Friday.