Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Earth Day?

by Anton Antonio
April 28, 2015

“Environmental science is a discipline that attempts to understand and explain environmental issues and tries to find solutions to problems caused by the interaction of human society with the natural world.  It is a composite science that draws knowledge from the natural sciences and the social sciences such as economics, political science and sociology.  Ecology forms the central core of environmental science as a discipline.”  (Antonio, 2015)  Here, the term “discipline” was used in the context of it being “a branch of knowledge typically one studied in higher education”.  However, there is another definition and meaning to the term “discipline” which is “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour using punishment to correct disobedience”.  “Discipline” as I will later discuss is a key concept to true and genuine environmentalism.

April 22nd is known as Earth Day for this year, 2015.  Earth Day is usually celebrated with outdoor performances, where individuals or groups perform “acts of service” to Mother Earth.  Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, waterways clean-up, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches.  Some people are encouraged to sign petitions to governments, calling for stronger or immediate action to stop global warming, reverse environmental destruction and implement measures to mitigate climate change.  Mainstream media often run environmental-awareness type of documentaries, films and shows.  In celebrating Earth Day, some groups also organize “fun runs” to raise funds to support their pro-earth and pro-environment advocacies, programs and activities.

Last weekend (April 25th and 26th), two major “fun runs” were organized in celebration of Earth Day.  Again, please allow me to say that in such celebration, we are expected to perform “Acts of Service” to Mother Earth.  While I do not question the aims, objectives and motives of the organizers, which are most likely all for the benefit of Mother Earth, I strongly question the “discipline” factor these activities encourage.  The “fun runs” resulted to plastic cups littered all over the events’ venue; the route of the “fun runs”.  This is hardly an “act of service” to Mother Earth for three reasons: (a) the encouragement of the use of plastic materials which we all know are non-biodegradable; (b) the failure to educate the participants on the benefits of sound solid waste management practices; and, (c) the failure of these Earth Day events to encourage a strong and committed environmentalist mentality among its participants.  The Machiavellian doctrine that says “the end justifies the means” should never apply to environmental matters.

As I’ve mentioned earlier “discipline” is a key concept to true environmentalism.  Discipline, as an academic study, trains the individual’s mind to think and reason on the side of Mother Earth… and discipline, as a practice and regulatory system, also increases the level of awareness of individuals on what is good or bad for the environment.  These two types of disciplines were absent particularly in the recent Earth Day events called “fun runs”.  It shows that there really is a need to re-educate people on environmental matters so we could all view our responsibilities and our “acts of service” to Mother Earth with more circumspection (meaning: prudence or the quality of being wary and unwilling to take risks) and critical thinking (meaning:  the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment).

After this weekend of Earth Day runs, one can only ask:  “How much plastic trash do we have to deal with, with such activities, if every day of the year was Earth Day?”

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “The Scope of Environmental Science”.  Retrieved on April 28, 2015 from http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-scope-of-environmental-science.html

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