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October 2019

By Jeff Stark

Save the whales! There is no doubt that the environmental movement is built on science. From the very beginning, the days of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau nascent environmentalists have relied on the science of the day to fuel their work and writings on the state of the natural world. As time went by the science of science evolved and we began to hear more about emerging environmental problems. This was in part because more of us were discovering more and more as science became better at identifying, characterizing and reporting.

Over time this new focus on the scope and origin of environmental threats began to focus on global problems. We began to understand how diverse ecosystems were interconnected and how a seemingly benign phenomenon in one area could be a precursor for a more serious and far removed problem in other areas. Scientists and environmentalists were communicating better and more effectively with a fast growing and increasingly more sophisticated audience.

Environmental education makes smarter activists One result of these and other generally positive phenomena was a growing trend of referring to the perception that the cumulative effect of a growing list of environmental problems was threatening to harm the planet. "Save the Planet" became a rallying call, a catch all that covered a wide swath of environmental problems. Rather than focusing on specific, and actionable, problems the growing consciousness about environmentalism became less focused and thus produced less action. This was a result, in part, from the fact that a cry of "Save the Whales" might produce less individual and specific action than a cry of "Save The Planet." Here is what Bruce Y. Lee, as Senior Contributor to Forbes Magazine writes.

Today's classroom"News flash. The planet doesn't need saving. Even if we had an all-out nuclear war that wiped out all living organisms, except for cockroaches and Keith Richards, the planet would still survive. Of course, the planet may look more like Uranus (yes, read that out loud) but will still be around. What anti-pollution efforts really are trying to do is save humans."

There is a good deal of truth in this. The fact of the matter is that our planet has existed for billions of years with periods of planet-wide volcanic activity, with seas toxic enough to assure that no living thing could survive, with an atmosphere that was instantly corrosive. Hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunami consistently ravage relatively large areas of our planet's surface. They have instantly destroyed things humans have built and create unlivable conditions that can persist for centuries.

Through all this the planet continues rotating and revolving, following the laws of physics and nature, being constantly involved in an ongoing fight to the death for every living thing. The planet is in no trouble at all and never will be. We are what is in danger is our species and many of the plants and animals that help sustain us. Saving the planet is an empty slogan but it lacks specificty. It draws our attention away from the things we can be doing to save ourselves and in so doing makes the positive things much harder to understand and adopt.


One of the basic tenets of the environmental movement is that we are all in this together. This also means that if we are going to be successful in fighting our Environmental education expands our vocabulariesway back to a healthy relationship with the world we share with all other forms of life we will have to do it together. We all have a role to play and we have to play together.

The good news is that every day we get more options and ways to work our own little bit of magic on behalf of all of us. Joining together has never been as widespread and as effective as it is now.

Listed below are a sampling of just a few of the organizations which offer us opportunities to work more effectively as part of a group with shared beliefs and activities. To get started we can begin exploring local, national and global organizations. This is not going to save the planet but it might just save us.


SAVE THE PLANET REALLY SHOULD BE SAVE THE HUMANS - Forbes Magazine - November 13, 2015