The Earth, Our Home, Our Future

By Julian Roye. Julian, 17, is a student based in Fayence, France

Imagine going home only to find out that where you once found shelter, there is now nothing, looking to quench your thirst only to realize it is now impossible and that you’re looking for food-food that can no longer be found in this destructive world. How can this be possible? ‘Saving the planet is more important than improving individual life;’ this is one of the most quintessential debates in our society. What must we do? Between us and the Earth, which is the most important? This is the question I wish to answer. Indeed, saving the planet is extremely important, because we couldn’t survive without it; our Earth is to us what soil is to a tree. However, if trees didn’t exist, the soil would not exist either. Effectively, there is a link between saving the planet and conserving our comfort. I suppose one can’t exist without the other and since the Earth already gives us all we need, now it is our turn to protect it. On the other hand, our comfort and health is very important too; most of us absolutely can’t survive without the security we are accustomed to, although this is a vicious circle, because to benefit from this security, we are destroying the Earth, our only habitat. So, what can we do? Are we obliged to destroy our natural home for more comfort? This is entirely contradictory.

A few days ago, I travelled to Corsica by boat from France; it was during this trip that I felt guilty and maybe you’re wondering why. I felt guilty because I saw all the smoke that was coming out of the chimney. I saw the wake of the huge ship and I felt like I was a monster, a selfish man like all the rest of humanity. Just for my satisfaction and my holidays, I was prepared to destroy the sea and the air. In addition, I saw two oil tanks emptying their oil in the high sea and was terrified for the innocent dolphins playing amongst themselves. I believe this is outrageously unjust and proves the extent to which our selfishness is out of control. I also felt guilty because I was helpless and couldn’t change it. Shame filled my body as I heard the cries of seagulls and saw the fish flee in fear. Of course, this is just one ship on the face of the Earth- one wake, one motor and just a few hundred people; however, there are a myriad of boats just like the one I travelled on, not to mention all the other destructive means of transports. Now imagine all the toxic waste that can be found in our food, air and environment because of this nonsense. No holiday is worth destroying the planet and yet no tourist company will ever put the good of the Earth before their greedy hunger for money.

Contemplating the disaster is one thing, but witnessing the consequences of our actions is hard. Each day we are faced with the reality of climate change, characterized by the melting of the glaciers and the rise of the sea level. The way we are going, we are just temporarily improving our own individual lives and completely forgetting about the planet. Why temporarily? Because even though we think the planet’s downfall doesn’t affect us, we are actually the ones who eat the contaminated food, live in a polluted environment and will soon be without a planet if we continue this way. We are testing the limits of our society and of the progress we have made; we are playing with our lives and chasing after money which will not be able to save us if the world decides to kill us. We must change our way of thinking and think not exclusively about our economic future but, above all, our ecological future, so that we’ll be able to preserve future generations and teach them to save and respect our world. By saving it, we will save ourselves.

Our society is extremely complex and very advanced; in one way this is great, but in another, it could be a dilemma. Effectively, our society needs energy to function, but many of the sources of energy we use are limited, like oil, coal and nuclear. The problem is that, now that we are so advanced, we can’t change the way we live and the amounts of energy we use, because we couldn’t keep up the life-style we are used to if we stopped using nuclear or oil. In addition, the poor countries don’t have the money to change their electricity production. So what can we do? Do we have to go back in the past and start building up our society again, but with a new way of thinking? Is this even possible? Maybe we have made too many errors whilst developing our modern world and perhaps these errors are irreversible.

Nevertheless, we are able to build oversized cities and manage them, we are able to fly, we have succeeded to overpower nuclear energy and many more incredible things. We are capable of doing many amazing things to benefit the planet; we have built green cities and know the secrets of wind, sun and water power. So, if we are capable of all that, we should also be able to adapt our ways of life instead of completing changing them; perhaps we have our salvation. It would be easy, and yet most of us (and this is just one problem) aren’t prepared to sacrifice our comfort; most of us adore our cushy lives, whereas saving our planet signifies passing up on part of our luxury. Saving the Earth means changing our way of life and accepting to, sometimes, pay for the installation of solar panels or wind turbines. It should be easy to save the Earth, with all the new technology we have, but even the most sacrificial of us would have a hard time giving up money, electricity or cars.

In conclusion, the link between saving the planet and improving individual life is a real dilemma. We could save the planet, but we would have to lose part of our comfort to do it; most of humanity couldn’t refuse the development of our countries, the profusion of energies and the comfortability of life as we know it. However, using renewable energies could be a good alternative so that we can keep our luxurious comfort and also preserve the Earth; without necessarily restarting the development of our society, we could find a myriad of solutions if we attached less importance to money. This is the time to rise against pollution and climate change and fully understand that we are killing the planet and ourselves at the same time. This is the time to act and change our way of thinking, our way of seeing our place in the Universe and understand that we are just specks of dust in an immense world; we are fragile and can die, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a positive impact on the planet while we are here.

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