Lifeboat Earth

By Bob Mertz

Like a ship at sea our Earth moves through the hostile vastness of space, and like a ship we are all in the same boat. If Earth’s life sustaining ecological systems fail we will all perish. On the Titanic the rich as well as the poor died. Today we are taxing the ability of our Earth to support the multitude of persons on board. It is becoming increasingly important that we make wise decisions. If Economics could place a valid long-term value on the environmental systems and living creatures living on our Earth perhaps this would be valid, but Economics is too short sighted to place realistic values on these things.

As a Biology, Wildlife Management and Environmental Earth Science teacher working in the public school systems of several states, for over twenty nine years I have been teaching students the importance of a sustainable life-style. I want them to learn to live within the ecological budget of Earth. The quality of life for the present and future generations depends on keeping the life sustaining diversity of our complex life systems healthy. Although there are some impressive self-maintaining dynamics at work to stabilize these systems, there are limits to their ability to correct for continued stress. The geological record is full of evidence showing sudden drastic upheavals and ecological disasters. We have no valid reason to believe that we humans with our over six billion members and huge powers to alter the climate and ecosystems will not trigger another watershed shift in the world’s balance. Our actions could degrade the quality of our existence or, worse, could result in conditions that render the Earth unsuitable for human life. It is our duty as the most powerful species on this planet to use our might to protect the integrity of our life support systems for the benefit of all living things. To do anything else is extremely narrow minded, short sighted and self-indulgent stupidity.

All the major problems are due to two related issues, the growth of our human population, and the wasteful over consumption of our natural resources by the more privileged passengers on “Spaceship Earth”. As a member of the lower middle class I feel that I personally have all the material wealth I need. In addition I feel very happy with my wife and the two fine sons we have raised. It is the welfare of my sons, my sons’ cousins, and all the children that I have had the pleasure to teach that motivates me. Now it is my job to do my part to see that they, and their future children, and all their children’s children have a quality existence as well. For the sake of all future generations will you do your part?

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