The Only Home We've Ever Known
"It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”
This is probably my favorite quotes of all times. With these words, Carl Sagan reminds us of our place in the Universe, and he urges us to take responsibility for our behavior on Earth—the only home we've ever known. The President of the United States just signed an executive order that threatens our life and the life of future generations. The environment belongs to all of us, and it should always be protected—it seems so obvious to me. So why do humans pollute the house they live in?
People travel miles and miles to see natural beauties, which exist because we decided to protect them. What would the world be without these places? What would we travel for? Last year, my husband and I had the chance to see the famous Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park in Australia. The place was packed with tourists, but beautiful nonetheless. While we were walking towards the viewpoint, we noticed a guy throwing a candy wrapper in the grass, and we transformed ourselves into environment advocates. We scolded the guy, and he immediately picked up the trash; we were shocked by his behavior—he had traveled from far away to see the Twelve Apostles, but he was carelessly throwing trash in the place that he had come to see. It's not the first time I witness this kind of situations and every time I find myself struggling with the idea that we, the people that should preserve the environment, threaten it constantly. In Indonesia, I saw tons of trash spread all over the beaches, and I was told that it's a cultural thing: people are poor, and many kids can't get an education. In many underdeveloped countries, there is no sanitation system, but the truth is that people litter everywhere independently from the place or the education level.
Sometimes we hurt the people we love the most, so maybe, in the same way, we hurt the environment? Or we are just careless, and we don't realize that with a single action we can contribute to damaging our only home?
It's clear that the relationship between humans and the environment is complicated, but it's important to think about it as a fundamental issue that we have to address. It's like a wife, a brother, or a daughter—we have to commit to respecting and protecting the environment as we do with the people close to us. And when we hurt it, we have to make up to it. This new approach could be the starting point of a healthy change for us, for the planet, and for the future generations.