As the pandemic rages on, life satisfaction continues to deteriorate. Various economies are struggling, hospitals are overflowing and life span is dropping in multiple countries. Despite these unfortunate circumstances, one system has thrived while humans have remained indoors: the environment.
Without the need to use cars, air pollution has significantly decreased in urban centers. Reduced resource consumption has translated to less water pollution. A reduction in public transport has diminished noise pollution. Empty tourist destinations have enabled regrowth and ecological restoration.
However, this reality will not last forever.
This pandemic will eventually end and we will resume our regular lives. People will continue to drive incessantly and overcrowd tourist hot spots. We will continue to litter, support fast fashion and fill our oceans with plastic.
Our way of life has to change.
This semester, I have been learning about “nature-culture dualism.” Nature-culture dualism is the idea that humankind is separate from and superior to nature because of our unique abilities we possess as animals. Our dependence on technology exempts us from the constraints of the environment and our main priority is the economy.
Humankind as a species is anthropocentric. Many of us consider ourselves the central or most important element in the global ecosystem. This is not a healthy way to think. We have to shift our mindset for the sake of our planet.
There is less than a decade left before climate change is irreversible. If we do not curb global warming, the planet will experience 20 to 30 feet of sea level rise, the complete loss of the Australian coral reefs and Amazon rainforest and mass extinction of various species such as sea turtles and leopards.
We must learn to view the world through a different lens if we wish to save the planet that gifted us its natural resources and ecosystem services for free. This is the least we can do.
First and foremost, we have to adopt a biocentric point of view. All living things have value and a right to exist whether they are useful to us or not. It is our responsibility as humans to protect animals that we have endangered.
If we continue to exploit nature’s goods, then we have to work towards restoring what we took. This means planting more trees, enlarging protected lands, and supporting endangered species. After all, this isn’t only our planet.
As life returns to normal, consider your impact on the environment. Hold yourself accountable. This goes for me as well. I am aware of my inclination for fast fashion. I utilize more paper than necessary and my food waste could feed an entire family. For the sake of the planet, I am going to try to minimize these actions.