To be humanitarian is to be environmentalist

For most of my life I considered myself a humanitarian, but not an environmentalist. I cared – and continue to care – primarily about humans and our quality of life.

But I realized something recently: to be a humanitarian is to be an environmentalist.

The problem with environmental degradation is not that we will destroy the Earth, or even life on Earth. The chances of that are extremely slim.

The problem with environmental degradation is that we run the risk of making our planet incapable of supporting human life. We are rapidly depleting essential resources, particularly clean water and nutrient rich soil, while increasing the planet’s temperature to the point where it may become uninhabitable.

If we steer the course, the planet will no longer be suitable for human life and we will go extinct.

I realize that to be a humanitarian, to truly love humans and believe that we are beautiful and worthy of life, it is also necessary to be an environmentalist. To preserve our planet is to love humans. To be a true humanitarian is to be an environmentalist.

The question becomes, what can individuals do to help? I’ll be the first to say that I am not an environmental expert and this list is nowhere near exhaustive, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

1) Eat less meat. The resources required to produce meat for human consumption are insane. On top of that, animals raised for human consumption produce more environmentally dangerous methane than the entire travel industry combined.

Consider only eating meat at dinner or being a weekend vegetarian. Consider eating only fish and birds. Consider – for the truly daring – becoming vegetarian or switching to an entirely plant based diet.

2) Purchase fewer new things. Instead of buying that new thing, see if you can find it used or borrow it from a friend. Used items have a much smaller impact on the planet because they have already been created and do not require further resources. Check out a local used bookstore and the library for books, thrift shops for clothing, and ebay for electronics.  Also consider borrowing things from your friends.

3)  Drive less. If possible, ride your bike, walk, use public transportation or car pool when you have to get from A to B. If you live in a city with car sharing and public bikes, take advantage of those systems.

All three of these options have the added benefit of being cost effective. They will save you money and will help invest in the long term health of our planet.  As is always the case, there is no need to make a massive change now. Baby steps are always cool. Small changes are always better and more beneficial than no changes at all.

We must change. We are destroying our environment, and the only way to truly love people, is to also love our planet and ensure that it remains inhabitable for future human populations.

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