I recently saw an image from the James Webb Space Telescope of the “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle Nebula. In addition to having one of the coolest names ever, the Pillars of Creation are unreal, and I believed that they were computer-generated for a moment. They’re very real, though we may not get to experience any more breathtaking views like them.
As humanity destroys Earth, poisoning our air and spewing waste into our atmosphere, we are slowly closing our window into the rest of the universe. As the curtains are slowly drawn on the human race’s window, I can’t help but think about what we’ll miss once we’re gone. Is there any other intelligent life? What are distant galaxies like? What kind of cheese is the moon made out of? These are all questions that we may not get to answer if we cut our species’ timeline short.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. While humanity is having the curtains slowly drawn on us, blocking out more and more of our universe’s majesty from our view, we hold the power to stop it. We are the ones closing the curtains. There’s so much beauty, abundance and wonder out in the universe, most of which we still haven’t seen.
We still have time to make a choice: we are cutting our own time in the universe short, just to make a profit and have more expensive (and destructive) toys. We have the power to stop it, but will we?
At this point, I’m truly not sure. In many of my environmental studies classes, I’m told not to lose hope. I learn about new climate solutions, about possible future solutions and I’m overall told that there is hope for the future. And I really, really want there to be. But as carbon dioxide levels rise, as 150 species go extinct every day and as I see other humans brazenly waste resources for pleasure and/or profit, it’s hard to keep that spark of hope that I learn about every week.
So what is one to do with this doom and gloom? I see only one feasible choice: turning pessimism into action. The world around me encourages wanton waste and apathy towards the environment, so I act to combat that. If things look bad, what can I do to make it better?
That’s why I’m an environmental studies student, that’s why I started this column and that’s why I’ll keep doing what I can do to protect the planet. If we’ve already done ourselves in, so be it. I choose to go down fighting and not allow the looming inevitability of our planet’s doom keep me from action. I refuse to allow my perceived lack of hope in the fight against climate change to be my unraveling thread and keep me from action.