Individual Action is Not Enough

The Canadian chapter of the World Wildlife Federation produced this cool video/commercial:

Most people try, to at least some degree, to take steps to help the environment. And these small changes, when summed across the whole population, are significant. But still, the collective action of individuals can only do so much — government and industry need to be on board, too. Unfortunately, in the United States, leadership from the federal government has been lacking (and at times, actively impedes) so state and local governments and industry have had to take their own steps. There is some hope, though, that this will change when the Obama administration takes office (I hope to write more on this in a later post).


Environment Quotes

Today, please enjoy a selection of quotations about the environment:

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
—Henry David Thoreau
There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
—Mohandas K. Gandhi
Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.
—Henrik Tikkanen
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.
—Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732
There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
—Marshall McLuhan
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.
—Elwyn Brooks White, Essays of E.B. White, 1977
The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men’s apples and head their cabbages.
—Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656
Such is the audacity of man, that he hath learned to counterfeit Nature, yea, and is so bold as to challenge her in her work.
—Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, translated by Philemon Holland
A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger father with a bigger fist. If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it’s taken personally. Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about his power. His fairness. His very existence. But if a world mother doesn’t reply, Her excuse is simple. She never claimed conceited omnipotence. She has countless others clinging to her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves. To Her elder offspring She says, “Go raid the fridge. Go play outside. Go get a job. Or, better yet, lend me a hand. I have no time for idle whining.”
— David Brin
We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.
—David Suzuki
How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life?
—Charles A. Lindbergh, Reader’s Digest, November 1939
Take care of the earth and she will take care of you.
The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.
—Ross Perot
It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.
—Ansel Adams
Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him?
—Pierre Troubetzoy
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
—Chief Seattle, 1855
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
—John Muir
You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.
—Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, 1755
Understanding the laws of nature does not mean that we are immune to their operations.
—David Gerrold
The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.
—Carl Sagan
Human consciousness arose but a minute before midnight on the geological clock. Yet we mayflies try to bend an ancient world to our purposes, ignorant perhaps of the messages buried in its long history. Let us hope that we are still in the early morning of our April day.
—Stephen Jay Gould, “Our Allotted Lifetimes,” The Panda’s Thumb, 1980
Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.
—Cree Indian proverb
We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
—Albert Einstein
Space travel has given us a new appreciation for the Earth. We realize that the Earth is special. We’ve seen it from afar. We realize that the Earth is the only natural home for man we know of, and that we had better protect it.
—James Erwin, U.S. astrounaut
Eventually we’ll realize that if we destroy the ecosystem, we destroy ourselves.
—Jonas Salk
Man is a child of his environment.
—Shinichi Suzuki
We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.
—Barbara Ward, Only One Earth, 1972
For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.
—Sandra Postel, Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, 2003
I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.
—Joyce Kilmer, “Trees” – 1914

(Sources include the Environmental Protection Agency, Quote Garden, and Think Exist.)

Walt Kelly's Earth Day poster, 1970
Copyright 1971, 2005 OGPI. See full-sized image at Wikipedia.

But perhaps cartoonist Walt Kelly said it best in his 1971 Earth Day poster:

We have met the enemy and he is us.

I’ve written this post as part of the first Blog Action Day, in which blogs large and small have teamed up to write about the environment on 15 October, 2007. I’m planning to write another post highlighting some of my favorite entries from today, so feel free to let me know about yours. And keep writing about the environment!

CNN Unveils New Documentary Planet in Peril, Featuring New R.E.M. Song “Until the Day Is Done”

CNN has been featuring environmental news under a “Planet in Peril” section on its web site for a while. Now they’ve announced a four-hour documentary by the same name (wp) to premiere on 23 October, 2007. Featuring Anderson Cooper, Jeff Corwin, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the documentary features global warming, species loss, deforestation/habitat loss, and overpopulation. While I don’t think the planet is literally in peril, the pattern of life on it, including human civilization, certainly is—so sure, Earth does face peril.

They released the following trailer, which looks interesting. I do like that they are focusing on broad environmental problems, not just on global warming.

As an added bonus, the trailer features the debut of a new R.E.M. song, “Until the Day Is Done”! Planet in Peril will feature this song similar to the way An Inconvenient Truth featured Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up” (see my prior post on this). I really like this song already, and it seems to fit the feature so well.

Reminder: Write About the Environment on 15 October

Blog Action Day

I just wanted to remind everyone about the “Blog Action Day” initiative:

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind – the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

Several of my friends and readers are already planning to join in. Close to 10,000 blogs have already signed up. Join us!

You don’t need to have a blog, either. Murad Hassan posted a list of suggestions for Facebook users (Facebook account required) that work for other situations, too. I’d like to reprint them below, slightly edited:

  1. If you are a group administrator, greet all the members of the group with a note relating to tone of the day (environment). On Flickr, run a thread on the environment.
  2. Do a self–wall post on the environment [on Facebook]. Post environment-related pictures with a message on it to Flickr
  3. Change your profile picture to a tree or the Blog Action Day logo.
  4. Have your status changed on Facebook to “Blog Action Day 2007 – save the world, save the environment” or your own pledge to save our planet. You status message can be of an emotional tone, fun tone, or threat tone!
  5. Write on friends’ walls [on Facebook] with little friendly tones on the environment.
  6. Write on the forums and groups you belong to.
  7. Have your entire written electronic communications signature carry a message on then environment.
  8. Post photos, videos, and quotes relating to the environment.
  9. Join us on the the Facebook group on Blog Action Day.

Of course, as you cross from modifying your own profile to actively communicating with others, take care not to be preachy or give unwanted advice. Unless you already discuss environmental issues with them, many people may not appreciate “little friendly” environmental messages.