“Save The Planet” - Man’s Desire for Eternity?

I claim to be an environment friendly person. And I definitely try to make lifestyle changes that let me feel a sense of pride in being comfortably environmentally conscious. Despite all my social training as a vainly-principled individual who thinks she does right by the environment and lives ‘sustainably’, I find it difficult to stand behind: “Save The Planet”. For those of you who don’t recognize the words, perhaps a graphic would jog your memory. A very common way of visually depicting “Save The Planet” is a rather small-sized, immensely blue earth being held in hands by a human who almost always is wearing white for some reason. Something like this :

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Source : The First Image That Pops Up When You Google the words “Save Planet”

It has proven to be a pretty simple yet powerful message — Protect Earth From All Harm. The obvious things that come to one’s mind are LED lights, reduced carbon emissions, planting trees, reduce single-use plastics etc. A simple three-word slogan that initiates conversations for much larger issues and an awareness where society expects policymakers to work towards addressing those issues, is a strong one I think. But that’s all there is to it.

If you look closely you can’t help but ask : Why are we trying to save the planet and from what precisely? Because the planet has survived, even through major mass extinctions and as far as life-form is concerned, mass extinctions have only helped to expedite evolution of life — “opening up the planet for new life forms”. So the slogan would perhaps make more sense if it were “Save Human Race” where extinction is implicit. But that wouldn’t have sailed ! Simply because it doesn’t have the same feel-good, bigger-than-thou appeal that saving the planet does. That’s why introducing guilt (contributing to killing other life forms and plants that inhabit this planet) or satisfaction (contributing towards the act of saving the environment) work more effectively. I might even ask as an extension to that thought : Would it be too bad if all life form from earth, including humans were to suddenly vanish ? And if it is humans that are pushing the environment to the edge, then would the extinction be quick and painless or slow and extremely painful? Is it the fear of those odds that drives us to want to protect the planet?

I want to re-iterate here that promoting mindless, irresponsible behavior towards environment, natural resources and other life forms is absolutely unacceptable and I don’t intend to support those via this post. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try to dig deep and see why does man word social causes in a manner that portrays the image of man as a savior? Why do we rarely accept that all our acts of philanthropy are founded in an innate desire to feel supreme and that there is no such thing as selfless service?

“Save The Planet” symbolizes man’s desire for eternity, to save the planet as is, with conditions ideal for humanity to continue to thrive. And yet somehow always trying to convince each other that it’s the planet that needs the saving and the ones who participate in the cause are better than the others.

References:

  1. Mass Extinctions. National Geographic. Web Publication. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/prehistoric-world/mass-extinction/

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