We need a frame shift

There’s too much emphasis on “saving the planet”. On every “natural, GMO-free, gluten free, antibiotic free, cruelty free” (but of course, far from monetarily free) product out there, the marketing department has waxed poetic on a side of the box about the company’s devotion to “our planet” or “mother earth” or “nature”. And it’s not just corporations doing it: the save the world mindset is worn like a badge of honor on the chest of environmental activists from Palm Beach to Portland.

We’re all missing the point.

The Earth has been spinning for more than four and a half billion years. Like us, it had an awkward teenage phase (but the bumps on its face were shooting molten rock, not pizza grease). The Earth spent millions of years as a snowball hurtling through space. Its continents have shifted, its surface has been battered with meteorites, its magnetism has been altered, its oceans have risen and fallen, becoming brine or nearly potable. In short, the Earth has had worse than us. It will have worse after us.

This is why it is imperative, for reasons of logic and of marketing, that the environmental movement stop screaming “save the planet” and start screaming “save the humans”. When we drill for oil underwater and a spill leaks millions of gallons of crude oil into our oceans, we interrupt the very ecosystems which sustain our presence on this planet. When, despite the evidence and protest from the vast majority of the scientific community, we continue to spew astronomically large quantities of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases, the plants rejoice, but the Earth becomes a less comfortable place for us. Fish have no qualms with sea level rise—it should give them plenty of new habitat to explore; we are the ones who suffer.

Human greed is what got us into this mess. The desire to consume at such a pace that it robs resources from one’s own progeny has been prevalent since such a scale of consumption became possible. It’s time we harness that greed and self-interest to power our own salvation.

Greed: the other alternative energy.