It’s time to get personal. In a time when letter writing has become a bit old hat, we thought it was worth posting this letter that we could share with family and friends as we reflect on the events of this last year or so. Written on behalf of the species other than human, it is obviously written by someone who passionately cares about how our behaviour is having a detrimental impact on the plants and animals that we share the earth with. It might be an interesting exercise to pick up a pen and attempt a letter of our own – to put in our own words how we feel about what is going on around us as if we were the author.
The Ecological Citizen Vol 4 No 1 2020: 6 [epub-031]
First published: 4 May 2020
The letter presented below is a desperate plea to humanity from the Earth, on behalf of non-human life.1
Since this past equinox, I have completed fifty of the rotations that bring you day and night. Many of you in the northern hemisphere, had you not been enduring the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, would be celebrating the season you call spring, a time for rejoicing with the kaleidoscopic flowering of plant life and the vibrant resurgence of animal life. Ironically, this spring has been a particularly special season because the life that you celebrate is showing new signs of flourishing – signs that could not have been imagined a year earlier.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, growth-driven capitalism has been seen by many humans as the only way forward. Yet, Rachel Carson had previously sounded the alarm about how the conduct of industrial humanity was adversely affecting non-human life, and now experts are repeatedly calling your attention to the devastation you are causing the ecosphere, including its living and non-living components. In your new millennium, the damage and destruction unleashed by humanity has ramped up to the point that non-human life can barely breathe for the stranglehold that you are exerting. Many of my non-human dwellers are becoming extinct or struggling at the brink.
Furthermore, the well-being of your own species on Earth is now greatly threatened. There have been few more striking warnings of this than the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The suffering that you humans have faced has indeed been enormous. However, there has been a remarkable silver lining. My atmosphere, and other non-living components of my ecosphere, have shown rapid improvements resulting from the imposed downscaling of human activity. And there are early indications that some non-human life is also already benefiting from the Covid-19-enforced lockdown. These shifts are disclosing that if you choose to give non-human life a chance, there is still time for it to rebound.
I appreciate the importance that you will place on signs that your pandemic is decreasing and your isolation will be relaxed. Non-human life respects your hope for the renewal of your freedom. But freedom has always been conditioned with respect to its exercise by the imperative to respect the freedom of others. And so, as you regain your liberties, I am making a desperate plea for you to consider the flourishing of all the life I encompass, of all your relations. Your well-being is connected with the well-being of my non-human denizens, as is theirs to yours.
For the sake of all life, I implore you to transform yourselves profoundly, so that there is a future in which your choices and actions take all into consideration as partners in life.
That is the only future in which your hope will burn long and bright.
The Earth, on behalf of non-human life ■