“The Earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” This quote by Utah Philips, a folk singer and labor organizer, is true; but not in terms of what it implies. It’s true because we’re all responsible for this dying planet.
This quote, as well as shows like “Captain Planet” and other stories about environmentalism, kind of suggest otherwise. “Captain Planet,” for example, acts like the Planeteers and their followers are guiltless in terms of environmental degradation, just because they take actions that lessen their environmental footprints and encourage others to do so. The show acts like only the big bad Eco-Villains, like Hoggish Greedly, Looten Plunder, and Dr. Blight, who all have the specific goal of polluting the environment, are guilty of environmental degradation. Individuals like the Eco-Villains don’t really exist, partly because nobody has the actual goal of hurting the environment, but especially since all humans are responsible for environmental degradation, not just a select few. That’s why I don’t like Utah Philips’ quote; it implies that environmental degradation is caused by a select few human beings. If everyone keeps thinking like this, blaming environmental degradation and other world problems on individuals besides themselves, no progress will be made in solving these problems.
“Captain Planet” was also wrong to suggest that every Planeteer is without an environmental footprint. No one is without an environmental footprint, but we are all capable of lessening ours. Not just our carbon footprints; our overall environmental footprints. We all should. The entirety of this belief, in fact, is that we are all part of the problem, but we can all be part of the solution, too. Since we’re all part of the problem, nobody really has a choice but to be part of the solution. I’m sick of people acting like they do.
I used to want to write stories like Captain Planet, where there are evil villains causing environmental degradation and guiltless environmentalists trying to stop them. My most famous idea of this sort has been “Environmental Snow White,” with the Queen as an evil CEO. This is a story I only just recently stopped toying with. Utah Philips’ quote did not make me want to go back to writing stories like this. But I do still want to use my writing to teach about environmentalism.
This belief of mine that we are all responsible for environmental degradation is summed up in a sequence of four poems I wrote. Here is a link to those poems on one of my old blogs: http://lilyswriting.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/environmental-sequence/. These poems had two main inspirations: an article I read on how climate change alters birds’ migratory patterns and my own belief that we are all responsible for environmental degradation. Maybe if I think more about this belief and research how climate change affects birds’ migratory patterns, I can turn these poems into a lyric essay about environmentalism.