What Are Our Earth’s Rights?

Earth's Rights

“Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.” – Evo Morales

By Dale Harrington

The above quote inspired me to think about my next article for the Earth Matters column in the Rossmoor News. I strive to write articles that are meaningful and useful to others. I wondered how a conversation would go with the Earth if I asked it what it thought its rights are.

Earth's Rights
Does our forest use protect wildlife habitat?

Magically, the Earth’s response came to me! Here’s what it said: “First, I want clean air and clean water. Next, I want to maintain the natural beauty that I have brought. Then, I want to have my inhabitants enjoy what I offer – shade, fruit and nuts from the trees I grow. Of course, I am even happy when they find uses for my trees to build shelters, tools and fires to stay warm. I am pleased they enjoy and appreciate wood I provide as well as the fruits and nuts that grow from trees’ limbs. Same goes for what they find inside me – minerals, metals, oil, even clean water. BUT some of my inhabitants know no limits! I am the only Earth we are aware of!

How much is enough?

“My oceans are polluted with waste that is harming ocean inhabitants. As is true for all my inhabitants, my bounties are not limitless. The recent COVID-19 virus has emphasized an example of cause and effect on my environment. My inhabitants walked more and drove less, thus my air was cleaner, stores were closed, so there was less impulsive buying, and humans began finding ways to conserve my natural resources. Am I asking for too much?”

Here are some other examples of the impact humans have on the environment.

Depletion of minerals

According to a new study of the U.S. manufacturing sector (Sci. Adv. 2020, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv. aay8647), almost two dozen minerals required for new and emerging technologies are at risk of supply shortages. We use these minerals to produce alloys, batteries, catalysts, ceramics and for other applications.

Air pollution
Earth's Rights
Our rivers, lakes and oceans seem so vast, yet our profligate carelessness has polluted them all.

Because the average driver logs 13,476 miles each year, that means that in total, Americans drive more than 2.5 trillion miles annually.https://tinyurl.com/yxuvj5fc In 2017, the United States consumed a total of 7.28 billion barrels of petroleum products, an average of about 19.96 million barrels per day. https://tinyurl.com/y3apr4aq In a previous article I wrote for the Earth Matters column, I included the following: We have an addiction to throwaway plastic! Ask yourself, am I an addict? Well, you would probably say NO because we normally think of addiction only in terms of drugs or alcohol. The definition of addiction: “the fact or condition of being enslaved to a particular substance, thing or activity.” (Emphasis is mine.) We are behaviorally addicted to the activity of purchasing plastic things!

“Most Intelligent”…”Highest Evolved”…Really?

It is puzzling we humans consider ourselves the most intelligent of living species on the Earth, yet look at the destruction we cause. We kill each other in wars; destroy forests and eliminate the habitats of the creatures living there; pollute the very air we breathe; litter the oceans and waterways with millions of tons of plastic and other waste, which wildlife ingest to their detriment and ours; pollute the very water we drink; abuse animals; and insist on buying and throwing away millions of items that have only a one-time use. Let us think more about what we are doing to our Earth, to future generations and to ourselves!

Earth's Rights
Millions of acres of western forests are devastated by fires every year. The smoke from the fires affects millions and contributes to climate change.

The words in the quotation at the top of the column – “What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans” – should cause us to reflect on our behavior. Do we care? It can be easy to come up with a quick answer and say “YES” because all of us want to care about our Earth (our home), and we believe we truly do care.

Pause and Reflect

However, if we pause and reflect upon our behavior, we might recognize that sometimes our behavior is disrespectful to the Earth. If we recognize that, then we not only can improve our behavior, but we MUST do so. It is time we MUST demonstrate we care and are entitled to live here.

Living on Earth is not a right, it is a privilege. All creatures have a right to live here. We have a window of time to take a step back and give our Earth an opportunity to meet us half way. Earth is telling us, “You are my guests, take care of me, don’t abuse me.” It’s time we recognized Earth’s Rights too.

Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, August 19, 2020.  Patty Harrington assisted with this column. Email Dale Harrington at dalejharrington@gmail.com

One thought on “What Are Our Earth’s Rights?”

  1. Beautiful and sensitive article; I think Native Americans originally embraced this attitude of respect for “Mother Earth.” So much for us to learn!

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