So, since 1970, that’s 45 Earth Days and 9 Earth Hours – approximately one-eighth of an Earth Year. Have we learnt anything? Have we changed anything? Lets see:
- In 1970 we we needed one Earth-sized planet to be sustainable. In 2015, we need 1.7 Earth-sized planets.
- Worldwide emissions of CO2 in 1970 were 15.6 billion tonnes. In 2013 35.3 billion tonnes were emitted.
- 45 million barrels of oil per day were consumed in 1970, by 2012 this had doubled to 90 million barrels per day.
- Obesity rates have doubled or even tripled in industrialised countries since 1970.
- Movements such as Transition Towns, the Slow Movement and permaculture have all begun.
- Global investment in renewable energy technologies reached almost $260 billion in 2011, up from less than $50 billion in 2004.
- Worldwide campaigns are now possible via information technology (e.g. the divestment campaign).
Thus, there are signs that things are getting worse and also signs that things have a chance to improve. However, it will only be when we begin to recognise Earth Moments that we might begin to see a real change taking place. On Earth Day we can think of the earth for a day and undertake some action for the earth. Even during Earth Hour we can switch off the lights and consider replacing the bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs or moving towards a renewable source of electricity generation.
An Earth Moment though obliges us to consider the earth now: right here and now, not in some ideal, possible, hopeful future, but right NOW.
Many of the world’s sages and spiritual leaders have been reminding us, also since 1970, that it is our unwillingness to be mindful of the present that compels us towards actions that are damaging for the earth. In a consumer society that is focused on the next bigger, brighter or better thing, finding time to consider the impact upon the earth becomes less and less. We don’t have the time; we have to catch the bus in order to get to work on time, so that we can get more money to pay for the luxuries and trivialities that we think will make our lives satisfying.
A moment is defined as “a brief, indefinite, period of time.” When we slow down and pay attention to our moment, we begin to understand and recognise the connections between all things, we start to appreciate that I and you are not separate but rather, intimately connected. We begin also to realise that we are not disconnected from the earth, that we are the earth and the earth is us. Thich Nhat Hanh put it this way:
“You carry mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. She is not just your environment.”In becoming mindful of each Earth Moment we become mindful too, of the connections between the way in which we treat the planet and each other. We understand that acting to save the planet is no different to that of acting to save a child from child abuse or from acting to put a stop to the use of violence to resolve conflict. Nor, for that matter, is it any different to acting to take care of ourselves, and to heal ourselves.
Yes, let us celebrate Earth Day, let us switch off the lights for Earth Hour, but let us primarily be mindful of each and every Earth Moment.