The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

We are all environmentalists

Camilla Appelgren Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 08:03 Last update: about 5 months ago

It’s very common to hear the reasoning that a person isn’t into the environment because he or she works within a different field at work. The environment is seen as the task of a certain person, while some are doing other things. Others may claim that there are other things in life than environment.

Once again, the environment is treated as a subject of its own, which is assigned to a specific person.


This, my dear reader, is the main issue in the modern world. We are very fond of putting things in separate boxes and concentrating on one at a time - no mixing allowed. We have simply lost the core understanding that everything is connected by one thing: the basic fact that we all live on Earth and breathe the air provided by it. No one can deny that one fact.

There is nothing wrong with specialising on a certain subject. We need every expert out there!

However, we need every person in the world to understand the connection we have and more specifically the impact and the sustainability of every decision taken. No matter what we do in life, we will need resources. We will have to do with what we have at hand and not overuse or waste it.

If we waste resources for a long time, we are risking the survival of our species. Humans, just like all species on Earth, are programmed to survive. We were blessed with an intellect and ironically crowned ourselves Homo Sapiens - the wise men. The intellect has become a burden more than an asset when we learnt how to be selfish. That is going to be our fall. History, it seems, will repeat itself.

Treating the environment like a subject on its own and thinking that it is not linked with everything we do is a great mistake. We need to realize, sooner rather than later, that whatever topic we are experts on and whatever we do, we need to have sustainability in mind at all times.

Be it the secretary in charge of office supplies who orders eco friendly paper for the printer rather than bleached one, or the CEO of a big company deciding that employees will use the train instead of flying when travelling on business – neither one is working directly in the area of the environment but both are making decisions that have the environment at their core.

We need to start thinking of the environment as the complex issue that it is. It’s not only about learning about trees and animals, it’s about the fact that we all depend on it, hence we all have to care for it.

Without the environment, we will die a slow death. There is no need to wrap the result of a neglected environment in cotton. Do we want to die? No. Of course not.

Most of us humans are aware that we can’t keep on going in the way we are at the moment. Just like a person detecting a lump and suspecting cancer but not going to the doctor out of fear for the bad times that might come, people fearing climate change and mass extinction rather look the other way and pretend it’s not there.

It is true that we need a massive change in very short time to reduce the damage, because at this time we are unlikely to solve it. On the other hand, take into consideration that we have 7.7 billion workers at hand, the world population, for this job.

If we manage to get the majority of them to do their utmost, we would see fast change. Some of them might not be able to create a significant change. People living in warzones, for example.

On the other hand, they are not the ones who are over-consuming - the rest of us are.

I am sorry to say that it won’t help that we all just change to a reusable bottle and ditch the plastic straws. We need to adapt the change after our possibility to create change. A politician in a powerful position should, on top on the obvious changes, also push for change of legislation in favour of the environment.

Others may skip using the car and instead walk or cycle if their lifestyle enables it. It’s all about doing what we can, in comparison to what resources and possibilities we have at hand.

By acknowledging that the environment is not a topic of its own, we need to work with it in a different way going forward. We need to embed it in every single topic possible.

If you think about it, there is not one scenario in life when you don’t need air or the resources provided by the earth. Very few topics are so unique that the whole system would collapse if we stopped caring for it in whole as the environment. Let’s cherish its uniqueness.


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