So, here’s the thing about this spaceship we’re riding on. It’s becoming harder to survive in it. The temperature inside the cabin is rising. We’re eating things we wouldn’t even touch before, because we’re depleting our stores. As a matter of fact, the air is so filthy in here, we’re literally dropping dead.
In the face of all this, what are you and I supposed to do? What are we supposed to do to mitigate such apocalyptic destruction as the Gulf of Mexico drowning in oil, or the Pacific drowning in plastic? Governments are not in a hurry to fix things, because that would mean making sacrifices most people are not ready to accept.
A gentleman called Jadav Payeng decided he wouldn’t rely on anyone to save his island from erosion. He did it himself -by planting a forest bigger than the Central Park on it. Let that sink in. One person. 550 hectares of green anchoring an entire island, providing refuge for endangered species, and also supporting this man’s livelihood (he has a farm on the island itself). This is Homo sapiens living in balance with his environment, giving and taking, both thriving. This is not tree-hugging, this is being smart about surviving in the only planet we have.
Now, does this mean you should go and plant a forest? If you live on an island about to get washed away, yeah. Do it. Don’t wait for help, no one is coming to save you, most likely. Or set aside an hour every other week to help pick up trash from your local forest, like my neighborhood does. Or recycle. Do something, anything, except believing that you can’t make a difference by yourself.
It’ll take a lot of effort and, just because you and I can do something, it doesn’t let governments and corporations off the hook. In fact, they have a lot to answer for, with the general tendency to shift blame to the people themselves and for stalling with the enforcement of policy-level changes. Check out this article about the argument for personal versus institutional responsibility over the climate crisis, as well as the tendency of a lot of environmentalists to absolve themselves from the need to act on an individual level.
This is not an either-or situation and, while we’re all arguing, the spaceship is getting hotter, the food is getting nastier, and more people are dropping dead. So, move. Get something done, plant a forest or whatnot. It beats sitting around arguing about whose fault it is.