We are the enviroment

[This is part two of a series reevaluating some propositions that I perceived as crucial and important in my early thirties.]

Proposition: I can­not save the envi­ron­ment; I am the envi­ron­ment.

I wrote the above back in 2010, directly influenced by this TED talk by John Francis:

I had studied environment at this formal level, but there as also this informal level. As I learned about this informal level, I also learned about people — about what we do and how we are. And ‘environment’ changed from just being about trees, birds, and endangered species, to being about how treat each other. Because if we are the environment, all we need to do is look around us and see we are treating ourselves and how we treat each other. (John Francis, Walk the earth … my 17-year vow of silence)

This thought experiment still haunts me. Ready? Visualize any ecological crisis or degradation — from oil spills to climate change, from pollution to fisheries — and ask: how is this situation related to the way humans treat one another?

From this vantage point, it suddenly seems that human-to-human relationships are not distinct phenomena in the world, as if unrelated to the ecology in which they transpire. The environments we live in — and the vitality of the ecology we depend on — is ultimately the sum equation of how we treat each other.

We are the environment.

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