I love this TED Talk by Johan Rockstrom: Let the Environment Guide our Development. He speaks of the “quadruple squeeze” on the Earth and the precarious position we have put ourselves in. He talks about a shift in mindset, turning crisis into opportunity, the need for redefining sustainable development, and allowing the nine “planetary boundaries” to be our guide in protecting the planet. After watching this talk, I focused my thoughts and created a wall hanging called Beyond Planetary Boundaries.

Beyond Planetary Boundaries

Adam and Eve have drastically changed their Garden of Eden. Global warming, polluted air and water, and degraded forests are a few of the perils caused by their sins. The warnings from autopsied symbols of health and spirit are ignored.

The environment is always on my mind. Urban sprawl creates forest and habitat fragmentation, and it upsets me to think of the displaced plants and creatures. I mean, do we really need another shopping center just a mile down the street from that other failed and abandoned mall? Refurbishing and restoring existing developments makes much better sense.

I see a littered landscape, and it drives me crazy. Also, roadsides sprayed with herbicides make me mad. Spraying toxic chemicals all over the place results in poisoned food sources for birds and pollinators. Herbiciding roads and drainage ditches adjacent to our rivers and drinking water sources makes no sense to me and makes me angry with whoever is in charge of vegetation management programs. Why can’t they follow best management practices that are proven to be cost effective, better for the environment and better for the health of our communities?

I hate the building of highways that lead to nowhere. The bulldozing and blasting, cutting through gorgeous woods and crossing over creeks and rivers, will slowly but surely destroy critical habitat for rare species. Revitalizing and improving old infrastructure instead of diverting roads away from towns would be better for businesses and jobs.

The building methods for schools and churches these days are just awful! When the construction of a mega church involves the clearing of a huge swath of land, the paving of a big parking lot, landscaping with non-native and invasive ornamental plants, and the installment of drainage pipes to carry runoff containing oil and toxins from the parking lot straight into waterways, I get irate. I believe religious leaders and educators should advocate for sustainable development as well as stewardship of the Garden of Eden, and not contribute to the destruction of the environment.

Spewing smokestacks, mountaintop removal, tar sands mining and hydraulic fracturing, when companies should instead be working towards developing more sustainable and renewable energy solutions, makes me crazy mad. I would love to see coal companies reclaim their mined lands and turn them into green energy farms.

I’m mad at air pollution, sediment pollution, light pollution, and sound pollution. We continue to sucker-punch the Earth, and we know we are causing harm, so why don’t we listen to the wisdom of scientists and to our own consciences to do right by the environment, the habitat in which we live and depend on for survival? We continue to throw off the balance and knock the world out of whack. Is there still hope that we can slow the trajectory of our destruction and repair some of the damage done?

Whenever I get mad about things that are seemingly out of my control, I ask myself, “What are you going to do about it?” I do what I can to add native plants back into the urban landscape to provide habitat, I recycle my trash, I strive for a low carbon footprint, I write articles, teach workshops, and lead field trips to help connect people to the natural world. I join others in grassroots efforts to fight to defend roadsides, nature preserves, and rivers, and I donate to environmental organizations and volunteer my time with them as well. I believe it is my duty as a human being to take care of the planet, and I take that responsibility seriously. I am mad at those who do not feel the sense of obligation to be good stewards. Think about it — during the dawn of early man, humans believed in cause and effect. They held ceremonies, performed rituals, and made sacrifices to the gods for prosperity, successful crops, favorable weather, and other things that would lend to the health and wellbeing of humankind. What happened? Why do we not have the same reverence for the environment anymore or a belief system that emphasizes our responsibilities to our surrounding world? I realize I am naive and I am operating on a very basic level of understanding. I also tend to look at things in a mythical way. I like my fairytale view of the world, and I think comparing myths and fairytales actually gives me a pretty clear perspective. I see the world and all of the goblins in it, I know good and evil have to coexist, but there has to be balance. I want to be hopeful and happy, and I want to believe that humans will find a way to put their differences aside and work towards the common goal of saving the planet.

Adam and Eve eat Apples

Adam and Eve eat apples as the world dies. The all-seeing eye and the symbol of health watch and warn as the elements of the Earth are thrown out of whack by human behavior.