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Shakespeare wrote this play called As You Like It. One of the undergirding themes of the play has to do with what happens as humans move out from an urban setting to a natural or rural setting. In his play, Shakespeare makes a bold proclamation: human betterment comes about in moving from the urban to the natural.
“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. I would not change it.”
Did you know that this year, the global carbon dioxide concentration passed 400 parts per million? I don’t know what your political leanings are, but that number (400 parts per million) is really bad! It means that we have crossed a threshold it is difficult to tread back across. We have pumped too much CO2 into the atmosphere such that the planet and all of it’s beautiful forests cannot absorb it fast enough. How does this happen? Well, the problem is two-fold: deforestation and the unnecessary burning of fossil fuels. If we continue to destroy forests as rapidly as we have been, we take away the natural mechanism that absorbs CO2. Meanwhile, if we continue to burn more and more fossil fuels, we create more carbon dioxide for the depleting forests to try to soak up. We basically are adding insult to injury.
These harmful activities that we engage in everyday have real consequences in the short and long term. For example, in 1850 Glacier National Park had about 150 glaciers and now only 25 (much smaller than usual) glaciers are still around? At that rate, Glacier National Park will no longer have glaciers by the year 2030.
So what can we do? Can we still save the planet? Is there any way to act right now so that we don’t permanently maim the landscape of the planet? Rather than listing ways to reduce your carbon footprint (which you should do anyways, and you can read more about it here), I wanted to end with a plea…a plea to simply get outside.
Take up the advice of good ole Shakespeare. Experience the movement from behind closed walls and computer screens to open fields and rushing streams. Go out from the urban industrial machine to the healing forests.
Be in awe of all that surrounds you and foster a hospitality for the earth. Get outside, love the planet, and maybe (just maybe) we will start to heal the earth one step at a time.