At our house another kind of renewal is also happening. As this column for the local paper hits the newsstands, this writer will be awakening from hip surgery. This surgery business requires a boatload of trust in experts. “Hey Doc, knock me out and slice me open. Chop out the rickety old parts and permanently install a foreign object. And Doc, I’d like to still be alive when you’re done.” We all entrust our very lives to experts.
My trust extends to environmental experts as well, folks whose work is peer-reviewed and whose studies must withstand the test of duplication by other unbiased parties. These are folks who actually know what they are talking about. And the talk these days is often about a couple colossal environmental challenges: species extinction (the so-called “Sixth Extinction”) and climate disruption.
Humankind’s expansion to almost 8 billion individuals (you and me!) and our use of resources are the primary drivers of these challenges. But here’s the thing that makes them and related environmental issues especially pressing. Unlike my old bones that can be removed and replaced with shiny new parts, many of the changes associated with these two challenges are permanent. Extinction, after all, means gone forever. And the projected possible shifts in climate patterns would alter the world’s ecology in costly ways for thousands of years. Unfortunately, for the Earth there is no pat on the back at the hospital with, “There you go old fellar. Do your exercises, and you’ll be good as new in a couple weeks.”
The good news is humankind is driving these challenges and humankind can solve them. We have those billions of clever, caring folks who treasure the return of the robins (or the bird of their choice) and the promise of spring just as much as you and I do. Let’s ask ourselves, “What part can I play in assuring that the beauty and the promise of spring will hold strong for generations to come?”
Because there are no new shiny replacement planets ready to take Earth’s place. This is the only home we’ll ever know; it’s where we’re forever… Earthbound.