Crew Commentary

World Environment Day

Tim Rumage - Planetary Ethicist


This commentary originally appeared on Planetary Ethicist


This year’s theme for World Environment Day is about reconnecting with Nature: go outside and enjoy Nature, value Nature, and learn about the importance of Nature in our lives and livelihoods.

Tim Rumage


We tend to take Nature, natural resources and nature’s services for granted. It’s easy to under-appreciate the opportunities that Nature provides us as our lives become increasing enclosed in buildings and encased in vehicles.  We don’t think about processes that provide us with the fundamental components of life – clean air, food, and water.  We lose sight of our interactions and interdependencies with the planet.


We forget that all businesses are reliant, in varying degrees, upon natural resources. Your computer, your phone, and other electronic devices are all produced using copper, gold, silicon and other earth-sourced materials. There is no economy without an ecology. So the only way to have a healthy long-term economy is to balance and synchronize it with the long-term ecological systems of the planet.


Another reason to reconnect with Nature is that Earth Overshoot Day for 2017 is August 2nd.


That is the day on which our rate of harvesting the environment, and the capacity of the environment to sequester our CO2 emissions, surpass what the ecological systems and natural services of the planet can provide in one year.


Unfortunately there will still be 152 days left in the year. So we will steal 152 days’ worth of resources from our children’s future. In 2016, Earth Overshoot Day was August 8th. We continue to steal more and more planetary resources from future generations at an ever-increasing rate.


We now need 1.7 Earths to meet our annual demands on the ecosystems of our planet.


So yes, as the theme of World Environment Day implores, we need, we must, reconnect with Nature, for that is the path to a future we would want for ourselves, and want for our heirs to inherit.