Oliver Morton, chief news and features editor of Nature, did say it was a dangerous idea when he proposed it in John Brockman’s 2006 book, ‘What is Your Dangerous Idea?‘. He wasn’t the first to say this, and he wouldn’t be the last. Simply because it’s the truth.
You can Google “Save the Earth” and you’ll find tens of thousands of entries. Look up Google Images, and you’ll see logos of many environmental campaigns using that exact or other similar phrasing.
Most of us know about climate change. You might also know about the terrible effects of global warming that include droughts in some and floods elsewhere, increased natural disasters and so on.
So, what’s wrong with saying “Save the Earth”? Inspiring people to make a change is a good thing, right?
Yes, making a positive change is good. But it is incorrect to say that the we need to save Earth. Our planet does not need rescuing. Earth is going to survive all this on its own.
In the past 4 billion years, Earth has survived meteoric impacts, massive volcanic eruptions, and recurring climate changes. The only way I imagine Earth disappearing from the universe is if something catastrophic is to happen. Maybe something like what happened in the crazy 2003 Korean movie, “Save the Green Planet!”
Saying that we, puny human beings, can harm the Earth is like the pre-Copernicus belief that human beings in Earth is the centre of the universe. Sure, we can change the Earth. With our actions, we have the power to make our present Earth a different one. A hotter one, if we choose to go on as usual. But, we do not have the power to harm it, unless we plan on a planet-wide suicide using explosives.
Earth is here to stay. What we should worry about is the survival of our species and nonhuman beings.
Deforestation in Southeast Asia and South America, the rise of monotonous plantations, unsustainable mining of natural resources, mass extinctions, the rise of pestilence and other infectious diseases, and how we (both rich and poor nations) are going to adapt to a new, hotter, and maybe, more volatile Earth are the things we should talk about.
We ought to stop saying “Save the Earth”. It’s misleading. Say “Save Trees”, “Save the Islanders”, or “Save the Frogs”. Anything but the very first.
- What Is Climate Change Adaptation? (chimalaya.org)