No Longer a Day but an Age
Earth Day is coming. April 22 to be exact. How I know is my email inbox. Every day for the past few weeks I get pitches to write about some company’s new eco product. The words LEED certified, Eco, Green, Recycled, Renewable have become an endless blur in the subject line of in-bound emails. This is now a spring ritual.
Last year around this time I wrote a column entitled “Earth Century” . In it I mentioned that in the first two years of this blog in 2006 and 2007 I had focused a lot on alternative energy, renewable energy and peak oil. This led me to being considered a thought shaper in the energy blogosphere. The result, mentioned in last year’s column, has been that I am obviously on the list for pitching environment projects, products and initiatives. So, from this perspective I feel like the world is continuing to think that Earth Day is a marketing event for promotion.
Please don’t get me wrong. I support every single one of these efforts. They are all worthy. They are all moving us in the right direction. The volume of these pitches increases every year, which is a good directional sign. I embrace the efforts and the direction. That said, we all have to give up this Earth Day thing. It has become a day to toot one’s horn or to feel self-righteous about spending the day planting trees or picking up litter or whatever floats your ecological boat. Well, I did my part. I love the earth. I am hip and green. Okay, fine, no problem. However, it is not longer a Day in our life, it is the life we have to live every day.
I called this the Earth Century last year because it is this century that we turn around our rush to global environmental Armageddon, or not.
We have entered the Anthropocene Age. The name was coined by Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen in 2000. The simple definition is that we have entered the Age of Humanity. This means that Humanity has become the single most influential force influencing Earth, similar to ice being the dominant force in the Ice Age. Humanity is not only the largest species on the planet in terms of our biomass, we are clearly the most ecologically intrusive in our relationship with our planet.
7 billion of us, with billions wanting a more energy intensive lifestyle is now the single greatest determining factor in the biosphere. How we collectively alter the trajectory of growth into a more sustainable, renewable path is a challenge and a responsibility. A challenge because it entails changing many deeply entrenched legacy ways of thinking supported by the powers of status quo. A responsibility because if we don’t change all the thinking behind the current trajectory in this century we will be responsible for planetary ecological disasters that will affect the planet for centuries to come.
The Shift Age is the time when we must and will shift this trajectory and the legacy thinking that powers it to a new entirely different view on growth, energy, and the definition of life as we know it. The Shift Age is a critical time not just for humanity but therefore one for the planet as well.
So, Earth Day is April 22. In the month prior to this celebration of greenness, March 2012, there were 15,000 local temperature records tied or broken in the U.S. and the average temperatures were 8.6F or 4.8C above normal. To use one tired cliché , this is the new normal. We have entered the Anthropocene Age. Every day must be an Earth Day. Tell me not what you will announce that day. Tell me what you are doing to alter our rush to biosphere catastrophe in the next few decades.
The Anthropocene Age is the time when Marshall McLuhan’s quote is truer and more profound than ever: “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crew”
We are not crew for a day, but for the rest of our lives.