“Climate change calls us to become humble – a virtue most religions preach and a word which has the same roots as humus. We must literally return to earth, let go of our hubris and pride, and begin to honor and respect those things that sustain our lives. When we do, when we work within nature and take natural systems as our teacher and model, we also find strong allies in some of the most humble creatures. To heal toxic soil, to restore fertility, to break down pathogens, bacteria and fungi are powerful helpers. The sun, the wind, falling water and moving tides can generate energy. Nature gives us all that we need, and more, to provide lives of abundance, balance, and beauty for all – but She does not give us enough to waste or to satisfy endless greed or addictive need.” – Starhawk, “Climate Change: A Moral Imperative to Act”
If you didn’t know - which I hope you do know - Australia is on fire. Some sources say that Australia has been burning for more than three months, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight anytime soon.
Screenshot taken 1/9/2020 - https://myfirewatch.landgate.wa.gov.au/
This has led to many lives lost - both human and animal - across the entire country. Why is Australia on fire, though? Many people will say that it just happens. However, I believe that these fires can be prevented if governments and national leaders trust the scientists and experts in the field of weather and global climate change.
Why does it matter?
As Pagans, I believe that it is our job to help protect the planet. Whether you believe in Mother Earth or any Gods is irrelevant at this point. This is the only planet we have, and many people across the world are taking advantage of the resources that we have. Frankly, I believe Mother Earth has had enough of our human existence and is trying to balance the planet back to homeostasis. She gets nothing out of us living on the physical plane except being taken advantage of - and the human race continues to allow it to happen.
Scientists attribute the global warming trend observed since the mid-20th century to the human expansion of the “greenhouse effect” — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. - NASA
On Earth, human activities are changing the natural greenhouse. Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). This happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent, the clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases. - NASA
CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78% of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010, with a similar percentage contribution for the period 2000–2010 (high confidence). - IPCC pg. 8
There are some Pagans out there who do not believe global climate change is something to worry about. They do not believe that protecting the environment and our planet matters. And I say they are dead wrong.
So, what do we do?
I can only speculate what would happen if every single person in the world took the time to reduce their carbon footprint, recycled, and lived a more eco-conscious lifestyle. This would look like a planet in homeostasis - a perfect balance because the people that occupy the planet care about where they live. However, I know that is not true at all. It would be a nice change than what we currently have to deal with, but I have to be realistic.
So, what can we do, as a single person, to help change the world for the better and ensure a healthy, lasting life for ourselves and our children? We need to start being more conscious of what we put into our body, what we buy, where it comes from, and how those purchases affect the world around us. Think, for example, about the issue with plastic straws.
Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate, using trash collected on U.S. coastlines during cleanups over five years, that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws lying around America’s shorelines. They figure that means 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastlines. - Science Says: Amount of straws, plastic pollution is huge
Something so small, so seemingly insignificant, is clogging up our oceans, our landfills, and our trash cans. Did you know that it takes up to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose (1)? And that plastic straws are given out basically everywhere you can get a drink to-go? If everyone quit using plastic straws, that would save an estimated 8.3 billion plastic straws from ending up in the ocean. And it would save turtles like this one from having a straw stuck in their nostril. The video linked contains graphic images and vulgar language. You have been warned.
So, if you need a straw, opt for an eco-friendly version like a metal straw. Or better yet, ask yourself if you really need the straw to begin with.
Side note: I know there are some conditions out there that require a person to drink from a straw. Obviously, this does not fully apply to those people who use straws because they have to. However, those people, if able, can opt for a more eco-friendly version.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The concept of the Three Rs was something I was taught as a child, but, in my opinion, it isn’t taken as seriously as it could be. For example, we all know that we can recycle plastic bottles, right? If that’s the case, then why do we still buy things in plastic bottles to begin with if we just have to turn around and recycle them? Now, I know some things you buy simply don’t have a plastic-free option. However, the Three Rs are, in my opinion, supposed to be taken in order.
Reduce your waste.
Really ask yourself if there are better options out there. Do you really need that? Is there a more eco-friendly option? Don’t buy into the capitalistic and consumeristic society that we live in today. We are always told that it’s okay to shop just because you want to. I mean, who hasn’t heard of the term Retail Therapy ? But this is an unnecessary part of our mainstream society today. Shopping should not be used as therapy, and we definitely should not be contributing to the waste of the planet by purchasing unnecessary things when we have perfectly good things at home.
Reuse what you have.
Something that seems to have gone out of style is reusing the things we have that don’t need to be thrown out. For example, how many times have you ripped your pants, or a shirt, and decided that you needed to toss it and buy a new one? That’s not necessary, and I think if more people learned how to mend and patch their clothes, we could really reduce the amount of clothing waste we produce as a society. First, though, we need to step out of that consumeristic mindset.
Recycle your waste.
This one is obvious on the surface, but do you really know what can be recycled? There are so many things that you might think are okay to toss in the recycling bin but actually do more harm than good. Then again, there are so many things that can be recycled that you might not know about. Check with your local recycling center and see if they have a list of things that you can and cannot recycle. For example, if you buy boxes of pasta - you know, the ones you just boil for a minute and then add the packet of powder for the sauce - those little paper packets that the powder comes in are not recyclable! I know they are made from paper, but the inside of them are coated with a wax coating that makes them not okay to recycle.
Be aware of your impact.
While we may not think that what we do matters in the grand scheme of things, it can be helpful to think about the process that some things must go through to get into our hands. I will use Walmart as an example. Say you go shopping and you want to buy a new shirt. You walk into Walmart and head straight for the apparel department. You find a shirt you like; you buy it, you go home, and you don’t think twice about the purchase you just made.
What if you did, though? Where did that shirt come from? Was it made in Thailand, like so many of the clothes at Walmart? How far did it have to travel to get from Thailand to you? How many miles? How much fuel and CO2 was put off by the ship, plane, truck, etc. to get that little shirt into your hands? Now, what can you do about it? Well, the answer to that question is easy.
You need to ask yourself if you really needed a new shirt. Then, ask yourself if you could have found a better way to buy the shirt. How about thrift stores? Or local artists? Thrifting things is a great way to continue the cycle of the Three Rs. You are reducing your waste by not purchasing new, you are reusing something that still has the capacity to be used, and you are taking part in a cycle of recycling by purchasing something that was technically recycled.
I know this is a really big post…
but these are things that need to be said. These are things that need to be acted upon. And, as a pagan, I feel like it need to do my part to make sure that others know of the damage we are doing to our planet.
If you need inspiration, motivation, or just more information, I definitely recommend checking out some people on YouTube. Now, there are people on YouTube who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. So, I recommend you start with videos by Shelby at her channel. She has a degree in Environmental Science with a focus on eco-friendly and zero waste living. She isn’t pagan (I don’t think) but she has some wonderful information in her videos.
You can also look at the local resources you have in your area. There is a great project called the Buy Nothing Project.
Local groups form gift economies that are complementary and parallel to local cash economies; whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things that are cluttering their lives, or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that our groups are not just another free recycling platform. - About BuyNothingProject
That project is a good way to declutter your own life and get things that you need in exchange - without spending money and without adding unnecessary waste to the planet.
In its Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world under the auspices of the United Nations, concluded there’s a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.
The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 95 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years. - NASA