“From one point of view, this 21st century is an amazing time. We have amazing technology and we enjoy the benefits of that technology. But from another point of view it’s a horrible time because we are actually destroying the very basis of our existence and survival – our environment. This is an utter contradiction.” – the Karmapa
If saving a life were as easy as giving up some of your creature comforts, would you do so?
You probably wouldn’t give it a second thought if the opportunity were right in front of you. But for some reason, the reality of climate change remains abstract, unreal, or implausible for most people.
Eyes open or closed, the planet is heating up. According to an article in the NY Times, by the year 2047,
“…for a given geographic area, ‘the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past,’ said Camilo Mora, the lead scientist on a paper published in the journal Nature.”
And that means unimaginable human and environmental consequences.
The Bell is Tolling
But doomsday won’t wait for everyone until 2047 or beyond. Instead, increasingly destructive weather events linked to climate change – like Typhoon Haiyan – bring the end of their respective world to thousands of people in a flash. Doomsday, here right now, selectively tolls its bell.
Recently, my husband – who reads the news – told me that 95% of scientists now believe that climate change is due to human behavior.
Doesn’t that mean those who consume excessively are collectively responsible for this death and destruction, and more to come? Yes, I know picking up a new blouse at your favorite boutique or discount store doesn’t seem like an act of aggression. But maybe, in these times, it is.
Could Fewer Kids Be the Answer?
Concerned, well actually a little more than concerned, by the idea of her world being fried, Amanda Sandlin contacted Dr. Mora, the author of the scientific paper quoted above, and asked him, “If there was one thing I could do to help, what should it be?” I encourage you to read the entire exchange in Amanda’s blog post: Skip Kids. Save the Planet. An Email from Dr. Mora.
First of all, Dr. Mora doesn’t have a magic answer. However, he did pinpoint overpopulation as the most pressing issue of our time. He thinks we need to persuade people to have fewer children. Otherwise, he feels it’s hopeless because people will not give up their comforts just because of climate change.
As Amanda points out, not having kids is a bit bigger than abstaining from paper towels, although that’s good too. With the right numbers, not having children could have a huge impact on climate change.
Would you be willing to forgo having children if it would save the planet?
I’m all for the idea as long as it doesn’t involve forced and/or selective sterilization of women. Please help spread the word.
We’re Not Off the Environmental Hook Yet
But, does that mean we’re personally off the hook? I don’t think so because there’s too many of us already, and people continue to consume like there’s unlimited resources. There’s also the fact that people have been suffering from climate change and even dying due to its impact for years. It’s also going to take time to convince people to have fewer children and it will be years till we see the results.
So after Typhoon Haiyan hit, I began to ponder this question, “What more can I do?”
I use solar power and will soon be on water catchment again. I’ve reduced my purchases. I’ve limited my air travel. Aside from one trip to Honolulu, which made me depressed, I haven’t traveled by air since the end of 2009. I don’t have children, and I’m slowly learning permaculture. I may sound like an angel, but believe me I’m far from the perfect environmentalist.
I’m pretty sure I could do more.
I believe this is one of the most important questions we can each ask ourselves today.
“What can I do to soften climate catastrophe?”
Then take a single step, followed by the next one. Peoples’ lives are depending upon us. Animals, too.
Enjoy Your Life Fully
In light of these ecological realities, please try to live more simply, and I will too. At the same time, enjoy your life fully. Don’t cave into hopelessness or despair. Delight in the beauty that still remains on this earth.
Remember, you can act with integrity, and you can positively influence others. But, you can’t control everyone’s behavior. Everything is impermanent, even our world and this planet. In time, it too will come to and end.
Yes, it would be heartbreaking to see the Earth destroyed mindlessly and in greed, and all that additional suffering that would ensue.
But, you can still live in peace, when you understand you are not this body, you are not this brain. The end of the world cannot destroy your true essence. Nevertheless, due to the law of karma, and the truth of interdependence, it’s imperative to act responsibly in relation to the environment. And insane not to.
Would you forgo having children if it meant saving the planet? What else would you give up to help soften the blow of climate change?