How can I find practical solutions and work for our planet?
There is no use in denying it. We, the entire human race, have created a crisis that is threatening the planet Earth. Through our selfishness, short-sightedness, and indifference we have participated in the destruction of our home planet. There are signs and symptoms everywhere. Severe weather conditions batter homes, dry up crops, and displace millions of people. Before this evidence and so much more, I want to throw up my hands and cry: “What have we done? What can I do about it? Is it too late?”
However, instead of proclaiming a doomsday prophecy and giving up, I have decided that it is important to have hope. My hope is that, we as a species, will be able to heal the Earth and repair the destruction we have caused. I hope that we will be able to work together to make the changes that are needed to bring about this healing. Can we care enough, and is our love of our Mother Planet enough to overcome all the obstacles we may put in the way? For hope to be manifested I think a change in human consciousness is necessary.
Finding a concrete response
Hope is not just wishful thinking or expectation in a magical solution. Hope requires a concrete response to sustain it. With hope comes the will and the consciousness to do something. All we can do is to do the most we can. And we hope that with the contribution of millions of others on this planet, it will be enough.
Part of hope is the uncertainty of tomorrow. What will happen? What really needs to be done? We do not give up before this uncertainty. Let us do what we can do now, where we are. We are open to doing something else when it becomes necessary. What can we do to fulfill our hope to save the Earth?
With our help, the Earth can heal
When I was repairing the concrete pavers on the entry path to our home, two pavers came together with my finger in between ripping off several layers of skin. I knew the first aid steps to take: stop the bleeding, clean the wound, put on a Band-Aid, and keep it clean until healed. Then it is up to my body to do the rest and heal my wounded finger. This included infection prevention and rebuilding skin tissue. My finger was back to normal soon thanks to the healing powers of my body. The body knows what to do, I don’t have to think about it.
We humans must perform the first aid to allow the healing for our Earth. We, as Earth’s first responders, need to do this consciously and hope that we do enough for the Earth to heal itself. Not just you and me, but a good proportion of us. We need to be conscious of what needs to be done and then have the will to do it. What I am proposing is a change in consciousness. We can transform our selfishness and short sightedness to thinking of others and responsibility. Our indifference can be replaced by a love to care for our home planet and the will to make a difference.
Making a Hope Action Plan
Let’s make a Hope action plan. Climate change is a complex problem. There are many factors that contribute to creating a balance for the Earth to become healthy and livable. They are all interrelated. Good air quality depends on a reduction of fossil fuel consumption, cattle waste, industrial by-products, volcanic emissions, dust, smoke from forest fires, and so much more. Let us try to look at what might be a common cause for all the destructive forces that lead to climate change and global warming.
What is causing the climate change which is upsetting the Earth’s natural ability to heal and provide? Let’s see what we can do about them. Let’s take the use of fossil fuels. What is stopping us from replacing this source of energy? Let’s name a few.
- Profits of big oil companies and related industries — selfishness
- Not wanting to spend more money on alternative sources; the priority of putting short-term satisfaction and easy gratification first — short-sightedness
- Not caring or considering it important — indifference
- Resistance to change — lacking a vision of possibilities for the whole
I think that if we look at any of the causes of climate change and the destruction of the Earth, we will find the same root problems. Now we have our to-do list: Work selflessly for long-term solutions, and be aware of the impact of our awareness; come up with creative solutions and envision a different way of being; and take responsibility for our own actions or inaction. This is my Hope Chest, full of ways to consciously do my part to fulfill the possibility for a sustainable future and save the Earth.
My To-Do List to Save the Planet
I look at my to-do list and although it means changing some basic drives of human beings, I don’t lose hope. What can overcome these basic drives is love. We can see the power of love all around. The sacrifices that we willingly make for those who we love. Parents who give up sleep to take care of their newborn child. Postponing our career to help our partner through school. Cooking a meal for a family gathering. Moved by love, we can put aside what we want to do something for someone else.
I hope that we can love the Earth enough to do the same. Now that we can no longer deny climate change and the destruction of the planet, we can realize what we are losing. For a long time, I have taken the gifts of the Earth for granted. Now I realize the blessing of having food on the table. This food was provided by the gifts of the Earth; soil, water, sunlight. It was planted, grown, harvested, and delivered by human beings who live on the Earth. As I plan, shop, and cook a meal for my family, I thank all who have provided it. I especially remember the Earth and her contribution that I most often forget.
Walking in nature, I wonder at the miracle of a tree, its branches reaching for the sky, its leaves open to the sunlight and the energy it transforms into food. Unseen below the Earth, the tree’s roots spread seeking water and nourishment.
I listen to the chatter of the birds, their song carrying in the cool morning air. What makes them sing, “Welcome morning, thank you air and Earth.”
Putting Love into Action
I don’t want to lose these treasures and I hope that they will be available for generations to come. I think to myself: How I can put my love into action?
Sometimes it is sorrow and the suffering of those we love that move us to find solutions: Charlot Magayi, a young mother in the Mukuru slum neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, cooked her family meals inside on a charcoal fueled cook stove which emitted harmful chemicals into the air of her home. After her young daughter was severely burned by a cook stove, Charlot Magayi started looking for a solution that made cook stoves safer, as well as cleaner burning. She came up with the Mukuru Clean Stove fueled by a processed biomass. In order to manufacture and distribute this cleaner burning cook stove, Charlot formed a company. As a result, her Mukuru cook stove is being used in over 200,000 homes. She was rewarded for her efforts with the 2022 Earthshot Prize for clean air. This will help her expand her company to reach many more African families.
Charlot Magayi focused on preserving clean air in the homes of slum families by improving their cook stoves. It was a simple solution for a serious problem. Her personal tragedy helped her to think of ways to help others by creating a healthier home environment.
One person making a difference
Charlot Magayi made a difference. I know other individuals who have made a difference by working in their neighborhood. One friend spent every Saturday morning picking up trash in his urban neighborhood. Another started a community garden on an empty lot, providing fresh vegetables and a healthful activity for his neighborhood. A first grader insisted that there were recycling bins available in the classroom to recycle paper like there was in his kindergarten. Does the effort of one person make a difference? I think it does. I will give you an example from my neighborhood of Southern California when 27 million of us individuals were asked to save electricity.
A bigger impact when many more individuals work together
In Southern California the electric company uses the FLEX system to inform consumers when their energy use is going to overcome its availability. So, in September 2022 when California suffered days of a heat wave and the temperatures reached the triple digits, it was extremely hot. As evening approached most Californians went home from jobs, schools, finishing their errands. They had their electric vehicles plugged in, in the garage and the air conditioning on full blast. The sun set on their solar panels, but it was still hot outside, so the energy use was entirely from the grid which is generated at night by fossil fuels.
Then came the FLEX ALERT text: “reduce your energy use or there won’t be enough electricity. Some of you will be without, experiencing a rolling blackout, so the rest of you can stay cool.” The text went to 27 million people and the people responded. Californians turned off extra lights, turned off their screens and put their dishwashers on delay. They also nudged their AC’s up a few degrees. And it worked. Within minutes there was roughly a 2,600-megawat reduction in usage. Every bit counted, and when it is multiplied by 27 million neighbors, it had an impact.
With the response to an extended heat wave and the possibility of being without energy, Californians were able to save a great amount of energy. So, I ask myself to dare hope that we all can sustain this response for the long haul. Can I create a consciousness that when I use energy, I will think of others who are also dependent on it? I hope that my conscious reduction of using the resources of the Earth will make a difference, not only for those in my region but for all living on the Earth.
Saving water in this land of little rain is also a high priority. Not only is there little rain in average years, but the region is also suffering from a prolonged drought. The water district constantly reminds us to use less water and they have imposed serious water restrictions. We are now using, more and more, the low flush toilets, low flow shower heads, hardscape landscaping, rain barrels, and reclaimed water. Now it is up to each one of us to be conscious of our personal use of water and use only what is necessary. I have become a water saver crusader and use as little water as I can.
Start with the basics
I am now conscious that every time I use water, I am using a precious resource. I’ve needed to make an effort to remember this because water is a resource, although precious, that is available by simply turning on a faucet. I don’t have to carry water from a far off well because water is right at my fingertips whenever I need it, which means I need to be much more conscious when I turn on the faucet.
When brushing my teeth, I wet the toothbrush as needed and then turn off the faucet while I brush. So, at least two times a day I save 2 minutes of water going down the drain. I also do this in the shower, turning off the faucet as I soap up and back on to rinse. And, its the same with the dishes, and the water in the bucket from mopping the floor doesn’t go down the drain either, but gets taken outside to water the plants. There are countless ways to use less water and still get the job done well.
Being creative helps and changing habits is essential. I think that just as turning off a light in the FLEX alert to save electricity made a difference, I can save a lot of water day after day, year after year, by using only what is necessary.
Why do I do it?
We have to do it because there is not enough for everyone. The Earth needs water for the Sequoia trees that have been gracing the Earth for three thousand years. Farmers need water to grow food for us to eat. I do it because I love the Earth and the life it sustains. This love makes me care and use resources consciously.
I hope that enough of us are moved by love to do something to save the Earth. There are so many things that need to be done and ways to do them. Our contribution can be big or small, but each conscious act will make a difference. I have a certain hope that as we save water, stop putting harmful emissions into the air, and use only what is necessary, we are creating a force that will grow stronger and stronger until it becomes a way of living and caring. This is my hope for the Earth – that we all contribute to this change of consciousness and put it into action. One small act will lead to many more and we, working all together, will change the present trajectory to go towards the healing of our home, planet Earth.