This day for sale | Environment | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

This day for sale

What would things look like if Earth Day really mattered? Let's imagine a world where environmental groups become obsolete.

If Earth Day really mattered, no one would ever consider putting bounties on coyotes. We would compete with them, fair and square, for the food and space we need. Sometimes we would win and sometimes coyotes would win. Killing off your competition would be taboo, the ultimate offence against fair play.

If Earth Day really mattered, Starbucks wouldn't mark the occasion with free hot beverages made from delicious beans imported from 5,000 miles away. Nor would any corporation have the power to choke out local businesses with superior branding and occasional predatory pricing. We'd probably celebrate the day with homebrew and a feast of things we grew or gathered or hunted ourselves.

At the very least Starbucks would have the good sense to close for the day and send its people out to plant trees.

But if Earth Day really mattered, environmental groups (and Starbucks employees) could take the day off, instead of using the occasion as a desperate ploy to snatch a wee taste of scant media attention, begging toonies off guilt-ridden yuppies who saved a bundle on free Starbucks. The media would already be awash with serious, in-depth discussion of climate chaos and what communities can do about it. No time would be wasted on the few corporate-sponsored climate change deniers because the threat is too grave, too imminent and too real. And the opportunities---to regain community and human connections to all other living communities---are too important to miss.

If Earth Day really mattered it would be, as the cliche goes, every day. Environmental groups would be out of business because everyone would already be obsessed with how to make a more just, healthy, sustainable world. Discussions about the pros and cons of organic food or local food would be obsolete. Such compromises would be unnecessary in a world where Earth Day really mattered. We'd appreciate real (as opposed to factory) farmers and fairly compensate their work as our providers and stewards of the land, or we'd participate and share in that work ourselves.

If Earth Day really mattered, a one-off bunch of drop-in-the-bucket publicity stunts wouldn't be necessary. We wouldn't need a special day to get politicians to plant a couple of trees and say a few token words about sustainability. We'd demand better from them or boot their corrupt materialist arses out of our government buildings.

If Earth Day really mattered, it would be a celebration, not a fundraiser. It wouldn't be about education, either. It would be a celebration of humanity's small but important place in what is potentially the universe's most intricate, complex and ingenious system of life. It would be about our connections to bigger things than us. All the suits would be right there picking berries, juggling fire or singing "Good Planets are Hard to Find" on their dusty acoustic guitars.

But, of course, that's not the world we live in. We live in a hyper-consumerist ultra-competitive, unrestrained capitalist system. We live in a world where he who sheds his conscience, perhaps even incorporates in order to legally separate from his conscience, is the winner. And those without the wherewithal to conduct this psycho-surgery are the hands-out whiners. We live in a world where most don't know that cooperation is as fundamental to evolution as competition. We have forgotten that we are not alone. We are connected by the very act of living, and we depend on that connection to other living things, in order to keep living.

And so, we need Earth Day to salve what consciences we have left, to maintain the illusion that we are progressing, and that all these choices we've made are actually rational. That it is rational for environmental groups to compete for miniscule grants while Ottawa gives Canadian banks $75 billion as a reward for fucking people over. That it is rational for the depletion of natural resources to be recorded as positive economic growth. That bounties on coyotes are a rational response to our unending sprawl, which has infringed ever-further onto coyote territory.

I know people find that idea crazy, that coyotes could have territory. But people wouldn't find that crazy at all in a world where Earth Day really mattered.

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