Earthism

Guardian Weekly

weekly.letters@theguardian.com

27th March 2015

Dear gentleperson

Thank you, Alan Rusbridger, for your legacy – challenging the way the media deals with climate change. (Why we are putting the climate threat to Earth front and centre, 13 March).

I have one quibble; I think you’re externalising responsibility for action on climate change, displacing it onto governments and corporations – who of course must be relentlessly lobbied and held accountable. But it’s we as individuals who fuel this brewing catastrophe with every decision on how we eat, dress, travel, communicate, play, work and waste.

My god-daughter, shocked by new data on micro-plastic contamination in the lakes of her native Bavaria, gave up plastic for Lent, and found she had to recalibrate all her eating habits. A neighbour grapples with ways to give her children a carbon-friendly birthday party. I wrote to my son in Geneva: “If an annual, sustainable, per capita carbon budget is 0.4 tonnes, and every passenger on a Europe – Australia flight excretes 0.9 tonnes, then the true cost of living in Europe is that you may rarely, perhaps never, fly home again. Could you bear that? Could I? Yes, if that’s what it costs to bequeath a robust, healthy Earth to my grandchildren.”

We unquestioningly accept the need for fiscal probity and regulation. Yet the biosphere, on whose wellbeing our own radically depends, barely enters the equation. We live in a blind spot of false entitlement to planetary capital, consuming at thirty percent beyond Earth’s capacity to regenerate. If all eight billion humans had the same lifestyles as wealthy nations, we would need five planets to support us. Recast that in financial terms to see how demented such behaviour is. Living beyond my fair share, my eight-billionth of the global commons, is at best embezzlement, at worst, enslaving and pimping the Earth and future generations.

If I could enact one law, I would make ecological and carbon accounting mandatory for every individual, artefact, enterprise, city and state. I would also like to coin a new term, Earthism – crimes against the biosphere – to be as stringently defined and legislated as any other fundamentalism.

The task ahead of us is vast. Do we evolve or perish? How do we re-imagine what it means to be human?

Peace be ecozoically with you all

Annie March

Published April 10th 2015

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