We live on a planet. We have named it “Earth.” It is full of things. Some are alive, and some are not. There are big things, like mountains, and small things, like bacteria. If we were to make a list of the things, we might not ever finish, because the other thing the earth is full of is change. Things are born, things die, they change state, they get broken down into smaller parts, or are synthesized into something else entirely.
All of this stuff comes together to make a planet. Whether big or small, these things also have an impact on the Earth. Take my lap top for instance. It was made somewhere in Asia. Various metal and plastic parts were used, water was consumed, fuel was burned and then I bought it. The packaging it came in became trash, and one day, the laptop will be trash as well. The battery will have to be disposed of, and the materials it is made of will begin decomposing somewhere. Maybe it will even be recycled.
No matter what, there’s an impact. Let’s think of it as a tax. In fact, humans are the primary source of tax on the planet. Sure, we started out gently, much like any other animal. We ate our leaves and berries, killing the occasional animal. But soon we were growing crops, rerouting water, and raising animals for work and slaughter. We were not happy simply living like the other animals. We wanted more. So the taxes went up. As we learned more, discovered more, constructed buildings and machines to facilitate our daily lives, the taxes grew. As did our numbers.
You see, we became good at fighting off our natural predators. First the animals, then each other (when we formed civilized society) then disease. Our new lifestyle brought perils of its own, but we were able to to fix more and more of what ailed us. Instead of finding shelter under a tree during a rain storm, we cut down the forest and built homes, burned the wood for heat, and used that heat and the tools we already had to make us some dinner. Of course at first we were not cutting down that much wood, or at least not much more than natural fires took from the forest.
But soon we were simply taking and taking without really giving back. We realized that the Earth would not provide enough without our interference, and so we demanded more of it. We paved over dirt so our cars could run, and those cars sent noxious fumes into the air. As did the airplanes flying over the oceans, which are filled with trash and are being over-fished. We stuff our animals with antibiotics and hormones as our global appetite for meat grows. We cover the earth in pesticides to increase yield. And even still, people die of starvation.
Things that were once luxuries are now staples. A half pound of flesh for dinner, an expensive trip to an exotic land, a house that we fill with items we have to have because they reflect who we are. All of these things are taxes. And as our numbers swell, and the world gains in prosperity and consumerist impulses, the taxes get steeper.
Some would say that we are already at a 100% tax. That once we started taking nutrients out of the soil and replacing them with toxic chemicals, when days came where it was unsafe to go for a jog because the air was so bad, when we started growing lawns in the desert…all of those things were signs that we had reached maximum. But the Earth has managed to hold on, and we have continued to tax, and tax and tax. Even though some of those taxes cannot be repealed any longer and will have permanent effects.
There are rivers, like the Hudson, were you cannot fish or swim, because they are so polluted due to our lack of regulation of industry, and it will be impossible to clean them. A recent study showed that 100% of the fish collected randomly from all lakes in the US were contaminated with Mercury, while plenty of Mercury contaminated fish already swim in the ocean. There is a floating cesspool the size of Texas made of plastic in the Pacific, and it will never biodegrade fully. There is so much pollution in some cities that when you blow your nose, everything that comes out is black.
People scoff about “climate change” as if it is some fairy tale made up by Liberals to scare children. The fact is, even if the climate isn’t changing, the way we have over-taxed our planet is frightening. There are significant consequences to our actions, whether we want to face them or not. The Earth has become a hostile environment in which almost everything perished before, and it can certainly do it again. If carbon levels were responsible before, it only makes sense to try to keep them low now.
So why not lower taxes? Reusable bags, filtered water instead of water bottles, eating a little less meat. All of these things are easy to do, but most people are not willing to do them. Because for those whose consumption and ability to make money is paramount, the cost to the Earth is bearable. Heck, they’ll probably be dead by the time something really bad happens. All of us place a tax on the planet, but some of us do it with gusto.
People can waste water, buy as much plastic crap as possible, and fill themselves with factory-farmed meat while laughing at the silly hippies wearing hemp, going veggie, and only flushing when it’s brown, but in the end, we will all have to pay the price of those taxes. Whether through disease brought on by the pollution and the chemicals in our food, or if we simply pass it down the line to our children. Someone will pay. And will all those sweet profit margins be worth it?
I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.