This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat… There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says:
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.
– An excerpt from a speech made by Paul Hawken to the class of 2009, University of Portland.
I went to the Bellingen Energy Festival yesterday with my family. Being Bellingen, there was delicious food everywhere. We had just been to watch the Soccer Star play soccer and were all starving. We found a seat and tucked into massive wraps. I watched my children happily devour a chicken and salad wrap with baba ganoush, hommous, tzatziki and capsicum puree and was filled with happiness that I had managed to pass on my love of good food. Followed up by a mango (me), raspberry (the soccer star) and lemon (the fairy queen) sorbet. The Bear had a coke. Well, you can’t win them all, right?
While we were there, I listened to a talk by Dick Smith about the unsustainability of perpetual growth and the potentials (it’s free and abundant) and problems (the intermittent nature of sunlight and expensive bulky storage issues) for using solar power as our major energy source. He is such a sensible man, Dick, and he uses his power for good.
I heard a young woman called Ellen Sandell from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition make a wonderful speech about her journey to environmental and social activism. Ellen talked about the moment she realised that being an Environmentalist wasn’t just about saving the planet for future generations – it was about helping people now. She used the wonderful Paul Hawken quote that I opened with – if you want to read his whole speech, check it out here.
The children were getting tired and impatient, but we just couldn’t leave yet – Bob Brown was the headline speaker! A friend of mine drove for over an hour for the opportunity to walk up to him, shake his hand and thank him for everything that he’s done. He got that opportunity, and it meant so much. Bob spoke about putting a price on carbon, and how sensible it is; take money off big polluters, and invest that money back into renewable energy and compensation for people who are affected by any price rises. Or we could do what Tony Abbott wants, which is to take money off the Australian people and give it to big polluters and ask them nicely to reduce their emissions. Hmmmm.
In the middle of his speech he checked in with Miranda Gibson by phone, who has literally been up a tree for 7 months in old growth forest in Southern Tasmania doing what she can to stop the forest she loves from being logged. Think about this – southern Tasmania is the last bit of land before Antarctica. You better believe it’s cold. Check out her blog here. How’s her fortitude and resilience?
In his retirement from politics, Bob is taking it easy. He is campaigning against the proposed off shore Gas pipeline in the Kimberley region of Western Australia in conjunction with the Sea Shepherd (whose captain Paul Watson is still under house arrest in Germany), as well as talking to small and large community gatherings like the one at Bellingen yesterday, a bit of world travel and spending time with his partner Paul (just joking about taking it easy!). His vitality and optimism is striking and inspiring, especially considering that he is 67.
So what does this mean for all of us? Are we all cut out to be inspirational Environmental Warriors? I think not. We can however be aware that this beautiful little planet we live our lives on is alive, just like we are. The filaments of carbon in our body are the same filaments of carbon that make up everything in our world. We are all made of the same stuff. What you do with this information is completely up to you, and will be expressed differently according to our individual gifts.
My last words to you comes from Waylon Lewis from the Elephant Journal:
My criteria for how I spend my short life on this sweet, terrible planet is this:
1) I do what I’m good at
2) I do what I’m good at that I also love doing
3) I do what I’m good at that I love doing that happens to be of some small benefit to others.
What more is there?