by Jean Chandler, Member TOGETHER A Way Forward
Just as we have many more microbes in our bodies than human cells, humans are but one of the many species on our planet and one of the ones most endangered by climate change. As David Attenborough points out in his new film, “A Life on our Planet,” humans no longer live in Chernobyl, but other species are thriving there. So when we talk about saving the planet, we are really asking about our own survival. The planet will go on without us, just as it did before we came along.
The question is whether we will wake up soon enough and develop the wisdom and will to do the things we already know must be done in order to ensure our own survival as a species: things like moving to renewable sources of energy, to regenerative agriculture, to a plant-based diet, to energy and water conservation, to maintaining clean water and air, to limiting our population to a sustainable level, and to educating ourselves about living sustainably. See Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken.
Just as a healthy microbiome requires a diversity and balance of life forms, so does the planet. We humans are the biggest threat to that diversity and balance. As Albert Einstein wrote in 1950, “A human being is part of the whole we call the universe…. He experiences himself in the thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living things….” (Personal letter quoted in The New York Times, March 29, 1972.)
Jean Chandler is the leader of Green Teams at the Sanibel Congregational UCC Church and Bat Yam Temple of the Islands and at Shell Point, but the views expressed in this article are her own. She is also a member of TOGETHER – A Way Forward, an interfaith organization comprised of religious congregations of Sanibel and Captiva also including First Church of Christ, Scientist; Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church; the Unitarian Universalists of the Islands; and Captiva Chapel by the Sea. The organization’s purpose is to inspire people of faith and spirit to demonstrate leadership in responding to the global environmental crisis