by guest blogger Elizabeth G. Craig
My boys have been sick all week with fevers. A little bit of the sniffles, too, but mostly this incessant fever that, when it spikes, leaves them glassy-eyed and lethargic. These normally healthy, energetic boys are going to bed during the day on their own, with no urging from me, because they feel so bad. Fevers are weird.
It strikes me that we’ve given Earth a fever. People—those who either deny the climate science or try to downplay the effects it’s having—say a few degrees of warming aren’t going to make much difference. But just a couple of degrees of warming in the human body can make a very big difference. How would you like to walk around for the rest of your life with a 101-degree temperature?
Nature is all about systems and the balance within and between those systems. My family and I stopped using chemical pesticides and weedkillers around our house years ago as I became aware of the negative effects of those products, both on a small scale, in our personal exposure to toxic chemicals, and on a large scale—including the fact that the largest sources of water pollution are the pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides used in agriculture.
Since we stopped using all that bad stuff and began using organic methods, working with nature instead of against it, a balance has formed at my home. Our biggest pests used to be grasshoppers. We had such large infestations of them! They would eat whole plants to the ground. They even ate an oleander down to nothing—a plant that is poisonous to most critters!
These grasshoppers were the target of the last spraying here, almost 10 years ago: I was inside, pregnant with my oldest son, while my husband was outside spraying pesticides, trying to control those damn grasshoppers that were eating everything we planted. I watched him for a bit, but then couldn’t take it anymore. I ran outside crying, “Stop! Just let them have it.” I couldn’t watch the poisonous vapor drifting all over him and our property anymore. But what has happened in the years since that last spray is that we now have a large population of small amphibians and reptiles (creatures that are very susceptible to the damage wrought by environmental toxins). The other day, I watched an enormous Texas spiny lizard eat a large grasshopper right off a plant. And I realized that I do still have grasshoppers, just not the garden-destroying numbers of years past. Predators and prey are all dancing around my garden, with no one being poisoned; the delicate balance of nature has been achieved.
My little microclimate being made balanced by removing pollutants is a tiny example of how the larger climate we live in can work. This whole complex life structure is made up of systems, from the circulatory system coursing through your body, moving life-sustaining oxygen in, carrying waste to the kidneys to be removed, to the solar system in which our planet inhabits with its own forces of gravity and magnetism. And for these systems to work properly, there has to be balance. If you don’t drink enough water, your body will not function properly, and if enough time goes by without a drink, you will die of thirst. And of course, water—too much in the wrong place—can also drown and kill you.
It’s all about balance.
It seems to me that if we’d all recognize that we are nature and nature is us, and that we need to maintain a healthy balance in order to survive, we might just have a chance. If we continue to make the planet ill by incessantly polluting it, we are upsetting the balance. We are giving Earth a fever, if you will, and the resulting effects of that won’t be pretty. Mother Earth might just shake us off the way I’m hoping the boys’ immune systems will soon shake off the virus that is making them ill. I, for one, like it here on Earth and would like to live here for a long, long time. I would like for my children—and all the ones to come after—to enjoy the beauty of our planet, our home, as I have.
So next time you pull a toxic chemical out of your garden shed, or from under your sink, consider the balance you’ll be upsetting, and perhaps consider an organic alternative. And the next time you go to vote, consider voting for someone who’s interested in keeping the life-support systems of this planet intact, instead of someone who doesn’t even understand that he or she is a part of this system, too.
Elizabeth G. Craig is an environmental activist and writer. Her love of nature was the driving force behind her decision to earn a degree in biology. She is a stay-at-home mom of two boys who are her constant motivation to keep fighting for clean air, water, land, and a safe planet. When she’s not out fighting for environmental justice, she can be found cooking in her old kitchen, digging in her organic garden, reading a good story, writing on her blog, or enjoying the company of good friends and family.