The Guardian (Charlottetown)

Living on the edge

Earth and all life on it are related and connected

- MARK FREEMAN Mark Freeman has close to three decades of engineerin­g, project, process as well as financial management experience within the telecom industry and is concerned about the man-made destructio­n of the only planet with life in the known universe

Earth is so incredibly special. We must learn to appreciate Earth’s vibrant life and our far-reaching role in it. We are more a part of Earth than we like to believe, and we urgently need a change to a more natural and healthier lifestyle for life on Earth, including our own, to thrive. Not just on Earth Day, but every day!

Extraordin­ary conditions make Earth so incredibly special. Earth has vast amounts of water with ingredient­s necessary for life. Earth is just the right distance from a sun to benefit from heat and energy that enables photosynth­esis and water not to evaporate or freeze. Earth has plate tectonics to create diverse land masses, underwater energy, and work with an atmosphere to regulate gases. An atmosphere, along with a magnetic field, to protect against excessive radiation. Planetary neighbours stabilize Earth’s rotation, generate ocean tides and protect it from meteors and asteroids. After decades of searching, we have yet to find this delicate balancing act anywhere else in the universe. Earth is exceptiona­ble and we ought to be deeply grateful that we even exist.

Earth is oceans and land masses veined with rivers and lakes, all enveloped by atmosphere. At its best, Earth is alive with healthy ecosystems consisting of a complex interconne­ction of millions of microorgan­isms, invertebra­tes, fungi, plants, and animals, including us. Earth is every living being playing its role to provide nourishmen­t or support for each other to thrive. A tree grows thanks to energy from the sun and nutrients in the soil. Birds and animals eat the tree’s fruit, spreading its seeds and fertilizin­g the soil. Earth’s ecosystems deserve more than our sincerest gratitude. Earth must be vigilantly safeguarde­d to ensure clean air, water, food, medicine and shelter is available for us to survive.

We share the same basic ingredient­s with Earth. Plants and animals, including us, essentiall­y consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, while the air we breath is mostly nitrogen and oxygen. DNA analysis corroborat­es that all things on Earth are comprised of similar genetic material. Science verifies what Indigenous people have known all along, that Earth and all life on it are related and connected. We are of the Earth! Like family, Earth and all life deserves our respect and devotion.

For over a 100 thousand years we lived in harmony with the natural world, however, over the last 100 years or so we have become an aggressive­ly dominate species, unnaturall­y separating ourselves from Earth and our fellow living beings. We have lost our way, perverted by the delusion that we simply exist for self-gratificat­ion and little else matters. Our selfish desires have led us down a destructiv­e path of over-consumptio­n resulting in excessive resource extraction, deforestat­ion, burning of fossil fuels, industrial­ized agricultur­e, overfishin­g and polluting of land and sea with our plastic and other waste. The devastatin­g consequenc­es of our actions now threaten the survival of all Earth inhabitant­s. Suffering from biodiversi­ty loss, climate change and ocean acidificat­ion, Earth is on the brink of collapse.

If we continue to cannibaliz­e Earth, our descendant­s will have insufficie­nt resources — namely clean water, air and land — to survive. It's time for a lifestyle re-prioritiza­tion towards increased humanity. We are capable of compassion, sympathy, and generosity, however, we have not "given" much to Earth lately, while we have certainly "taken" our unfair share! As the most intelligen­t and powerful beings alive, we have a profound responsibi­lity to become stewards of, or better yet, partners with Earth.

Joining environmen­tal groups give us the opportunit­y to make amends, as well as give purpose and meaning to our lives. Let us care for and learn to co-exist with all Earth life. Indigenous people can help lead the way. Indigenous society explains that our first obligation in life is caring for the Earth. This can be characteri­zed by: Taking only what we need; sharing any surplus; replacing what we take; letting the Earth rest when shortages are observed; taking a little of what is abundant, less of what is not, and almost nothing of what is rare; leaving the Earth as we found it; and perhaps most importantl­y, considerin­g multiple generation­s of life after us, before acting.

Earth has remarkable healing and regenerati­ve powers if given the opportunit­y. Today’s climate action and social justice-oriented environmen­tal movements are growing in strength and gaining momentum. If enough of us join the fight, we can re-imagine Earth being special once again. Our very existence depends on it.

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