The planet we live on is beautiful. The dense forests and deep seas are alive and busy, hustling and bustling the same way as any city does on a Saturday night.
But humans seem to have an insatiable appetite for destroying the very things that make our planet so special.
Why does this happen? Surely anybody who is able to experience the natural wonder of our planet would never do a single thing to harm it.
The answer to the destruction lies in a simple concept: disconnection.
A Disconnect From Nature
Every single day, you and I make decisions about what to spend our hard-earned money on.
Naturally, we make choices to spend as little as possible for the greatest return. We don’t stop to think twice if there are any other repercussions to what we’ve just bought. If maybe for example, we’re supporting some far-off industry that is killing our oceans during our trip to the supermarket.
Society today is becoming ever more centered around urban metropolises, and people are removing themselves farther from the natural world we were born from.
And as a result, we are becoming blind to the impacts we have on nature.
Photo: Nels Israelson/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
It’s not the people who live in the remaining rural and unspoiled places that are the problem. They’re the unfortunate few who witness the downfall firsthand.
Rather, it’s those who are far removed and cocooned in metropolises. The people who cannot feel the natural rhythms of the world around us.
Fueling the Fire
By land and by sea we are plundering the world for its resources. We take and take with no end in sight.
Whether it’s the poaching of 100,000 African Elephants for their ivory between the years 2010 and 2012, or the 100 million sharks we kill every year for their meat around the world. Illegal markets for wildlife are relentless and seem to be on a war-path to rid the world of its most magnificent animals.
Legal markets aren’t innocent either.
Our addiction to fossil fuels has led us to change the fundamental chemistry and natural cycles of the world around us. While farmed seafood such as shrimp and salmon pollute marine environments in unthinkable ways.
Not everyone feels the effects of an unsustainable supply chain equally.
For some its just another record-breaking hot summer, but for others its an entire loss of land and livelihood.
And more often than not, the people who demand unsustainable goods live far away from the people producing them. This unfortunately leads poorer nations to be the ones that are disproportionately affected by these tragedies.
The fuel to the fire is the one thing that makes our material world spin. Money.
Supply and Demand
Where there is money to be made, someone will always step up to supply the demand.
With people around the world willing to pay top-dollar for a bowl of illegal shark-fin soup, someone with the means to provide the service will seize the opportunity.
And especially when it comes to markets for illegal goods, this demand can be very dangerous. Because the people with the means to provide the service operate in underground, illegal circumstances that are so associated with violence and human-rights violations.
And for some insane reason, the less of an animal that’s left on the planet, the higher a price people are willing to pay for it! This phenomenon is known as the Anthropogenic Allee Effect, and drives species in a downwards spiral towards oblivion.
But not all people are bad. Actually, very few people truly are.
So why do good people support such exploitive systems?
It’s because they cannot see the consequences of every dollar they spend.
When we buy a fish, we see just that, a fish. And when we light our homes in the winter, all we see is an energy bill.
We don’t see the people who will be refugees because their entire countries are sinking in our warming world.
We just don’t see.
And that’s the disconnect. The disconnect that leads us to the false reality that we don’t have a moral responsibility for what we purchase.
Reason For Hope
So why should we even have hope? Why should we fight every day to save what’s left of the world that we haven’t yet destroyed?
The answer is because not all people are bad.
If people understand what their money is supporting, then they will choose the right thing.
They’ll choose to eat a fish caught by a local, sustainable fisherman over a large, industrial fishing fleet.
They’ll influence those around them to make good, righteous choices.
The trouble lies in making these choices transparent, so that good people aren’t fanning the flames of destruction without knowing.
Good people are empathetic towards animals and other people. They don’t wish to see the world self-destruct. They want the world to stay beautiful.
Photo: Johny Goerend/Unsplash
The True Cost
People need to understand the true cost of what goes into every product they purchase.
This true cost of shark fin soup includes the destruction of marine food webs from the top down, and a system operating under horrible working conditions.
And the true cost of the oil and gas we use to fuel our lives includes the marine animals impacted by oil spills, and the effects of climate change on world climates.
The true cost of plastic pollution includes the countless marine animals that ingest plastics and perish. And the fact that now, micro plastics actually move up the food chain and into our own diets from the food we eat.
The true cost is scary.
But it’s necessary to understand for good people to support change in around the world.
By understanding the true costs of a good, and seeing these costs with our own two eyes, people can and will support a system for a better world.
Featured Image: Luca Bravo/Unsplash