The people of the earth witnessed a joyous victory that day followed almost immediately by a solemn execution.

Bolivia, a couple of weeks ago, announced their intent to pass a resolution in the UN that would give something like personhood to “Mother Earth”. The resolution would give the Earth several inalienable rights that human beings supposedly have, including fresh air and clean water. People always want to talk about how the Earth deserves our unconditional love but it can be a little bit difficult to love something that is trying to kill you at every opportunity. The issue here is that the Earth simultaneously supports us and attempts to destroy us. It’s a bit like a parent trying to find a balance between being too strict and too coddling. Only in this analogy, strictness is replaced with serial murder.

If you give the rights of personhood to a murderer, the next logical step is to try it for its crimes, right?

Still, we’ve only got one planet. We’ve only got one chance to get it right. The Earth will, likely, be here long after we’re gone, but there’s a good possibility that we could, in our efforts to do what’s best for right now, destroy our own future. Our efforts to secure our own comfort and security (yes, we’re all guilty in some way) are, in many ways, jeopardizing the future of the species. While we’re clever and adaptable and capable of dealing with the moment to moment changes of a hostile world, we’re pretty shit at thinking about the long term, especially when it doesn’t directly apply to ourselves.

Long term thinking doesn’t produce quick results, therefore we tend to ignore it or, worse, mock it.

Take, for instance, this resolution from Bolivia. I’ve seen a lot of comments and discussion to the effect that this piece of political maneuvering is a load of hippie nonsense. While I agree that granting person-hood to a non-entity is fairly ridiculous, I also see the merit in governments and institutions putting value on caring for the planet we share as our home. It seems that this is the major issue when dealing with macroscopic difficulties: value. As long as people don’t feel the immediate personal cost of harming the very place they live on, things won’t change. I’d be willing to bet that if you compared the number of people willing or wanting to drive a hybrid vehicle ten years ago to the number now that gas prices are spiking more than ever, you’d see some pretty drastic differences in favor of hybrids.

The point of all this is that immediate personal costs don’t matter if we’re all dead. While it’s silly to view the earth the way we would another human being, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about the value we can place on this piece of galactic real-estate. While I personally believe that we should love the earth if we’re capable, there’s a balance that can be achieved here for those that can’t. At the very least, the earth deserves your respect and consideration. Not intentionally destroying the planet and making what efforts you can to offset your impact on it are both valuable and not especially difficult. If you’re not sure what to do, start simply by recycling.

The alternative is to suffer. Maybe current generations will escape any negative impacts of what the earth has been put through, maybe not. But sooner or later, the disastrous effects we’ve had on the planet and the wildlife will catch up with us. Our descendants will look around wonder, “What the hell were those people thinking?” Personally, I’d rather not be responsible for that.

Either we wise up and start using our wallets and our votes to push for new forms of clean energy and accept the momentary difficulty of transitioning to it or we continue dumping waste into the environment, destroying species of animals and plants at an unprecedented rate, and pillaging huge swaths of the rain forest.

If we continue with the path we’re on, we don’t even need to put the earth on trial. We’ve already issued its death sentence.

If, on the other hand, we all start thinking about the little things we can do to turn things around, we can make a difference. There are people out there that think we’ve already passed some kind of breaking point and that the earth is doomed, but this planet is also pretty resilient. That hole in the ozone layer is patching itself up and it’s only been a couple of decades since we started fighting the use of CFCs. If everyone just did a little bit to make this a better place to live, we’d all reap the benefits.

So start recycling, renovate an old home instead of building a new one, by an electric or hybrid car instead of an SUV, and write to your politicians about their ability to help push energy issues forward.

Together, we can change the mindsets of our societies from ones that see the earth as our plaything to ones that see it as our home.

Because that’s what it is, a home that we all share together and it deserves our attention.

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