Looking Away

A baffling characteristic of our modern era is how casually we are approaching environmental collapse.

This past week saw the release of a new UN report on biodiversity. Among the headlines were that 1 million animal and plant species (out of 8 million total) are at risk of extinction, and, broadly, the human threat to biodiversity (and thus to humanity itself) is progressing at an unprecedented speed. 

I fear that we will continue to do as we have done, which is to look away.

Seeing environmental devastation brings to light something we are profoundly afraid of. The death of our planet, much like our own deaths, is something we don’t want to think about. And the frenetic pace of daily life gives a remarkable (and socially acceptable) excuse to not think about it.

And yet, there are moments that call on us to confront it. This UN report is one such occasion.

My wish is that we can take a moment and feel into what’s happening, before rushing to think through the obstacles of addressing the problem. To feel what it means to lose our planet, our ancestry and inheritance. To feel what it means that our children will not grow up on the same earth we did. To feel the quiet, natural joys we take for granted - and to imagine a world without them.

It hurts. But it’s on the other side of this hurt that we are enabled to act. Which we must, courageously, if we’re to protect this only, this vital planet.