In his April 18 column in the New York Times, “It’s 2009, Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?”, Bono talked about Easter and where our values are in these difficult economic times. This section seemed poignant to me on Earth Day:
The preacher said, “What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Hearing this, every one of the pilgrims gathered in the room asked, “Is it me, Lord?” In America, in Europe, people are asking, “Is it us?”
Well, yes. It is us.
Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates … the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust.
The last section hints at what I think is the most compelling reason for environmentalism. It’s not necessarily for the environment. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are compelling reasons for valuing nature, preserving species, hugging the trees and all that. But what I think is more compelling is the human element.
If all of humanity were to live like we do in America this planet would collapse. With our air conditioning and cars and houses (that seem to grow exponentially) we just consume too much. All six billion people on this planet can’t have that.
Which begs the question, why should we?