Saving the Earth Starts With You

Translated by Teresa Chang

Our Earth was sparsely populated a few million years ago. People back then lived a simple lifestyle. But now, though the planet has remained the same size, the population on it has grown exponentially. In fact, the world’s population topped eight billion on November 15, 2022. Our average lifespan has also greatly increased. I am concerned with how much we are overtaxing our planet.

I have been keeping a daily tab on the Climate Clock in New York for a while now. The clock is a countdown of the time we have left to take action to prevent the effects of climate change from becoming irreversible. There are now less than seven years until the clock reaches zero. How is humanity to save the Earth within such a short time? This desperate need calls for change in our lifestyles.

Carbon emissions are a huge factor contributing to the crisis facing the Earth. Such emissions can’t be reduced if we don’t curb our consumption. Our unchecked desires fuel the production of all kinds of merchandise, which in turn leads to the release of carbon dioxide. On the other hand, if we lead simpler lives and take good care to prolong the lifespan of what we have, we can greatly help the environment. We can conserve energy and reduce our carbon footprint without necessarily compromising our quality of life. For example, we can buy what we need and refrain from throwing away things after just one use, and we can carpool instead of taking separate cars. As long as we really want to help, we can find ways to contribute to the Earth’s sustainability, which, in a way, is creating blessings for ourselves.

Evaluating our eating habits is another way to help our planet. A lot of food is wasted when we prepare too much for a meal or order too much when eating out. An even greater impact on the environment is eating meat. Raising animals for food requires a lot of land and feed, and the livestock’s breathing and excrement pollute the air and the land. Considering the vast amount of livestock raised for human consumption, it is easy to imagine the harm being done to the environment.

Aside from harming the environment, meat-eating entails the taking of animal life. It has been estimated that it takes 38 chickens or a 120-kilogram (265-pound) pig to make just 500 non-vegetarian boxed meals. If we were to look at the animals being slaughtered for human consumption in the eye, they might be saying to us: “It’s you! I’m being killed because you want to eat me!” Though we may not kill the animals directly, their lives are sacrificed because of us. This is indirect killing. Think about it: every day, hundreds of people eat here at the Jing Si Abode. If meat was served, how much bad karma would we be accumulating for causing all those animals to lose their lives for us? Life is precious, be it a human’s or an animal’s. Let us bravely say “No” to meat eating. The more people that reject meat, the more animal lives that will be saved.

Sometimes, children demonstrate greater compassion than adults. I know of a little girl who once said to her mother: “I often play with animals. They are like friends to me. How can I eat my friends?” Like this child, we can all choose not to eat meat. In fact, we can obtain sufficient nutrition by eating grains, vegetables, and other vegetarian food alone. As seasons change, we are able to eat different kinds of produce. Every kind of vegetable has a different taste. Whether it is cilantro, celery, water spinach, or amaranth, they can all bring satisfaction to our palates if we eat mindfully.

Living on this planet, sustained by this planet, we have many things for which to be thankful. With different seasons come different natural scenery for us to enjoy. All kinds of creatures coexist on the planet while doing their part to contribute to a thriving ecosystem. Look at the ants and earthworms. Tiny though they are, they aerate and enrich the soil and help the planet as a whole. They offer many benefits to humanity, too. Such an amazing coexistence of species in the world is truly beautiful, isn’t it?

If we want to live in safety and peace, we need a healthy planet. Protecting and loving the Earth and all its creatures brings humanity only benefits. It is not hard to do. By eating vegetarian, inspiring others to do so, and living simply, we can reduce the burden on the Earth. All it takes is a willingness to start.

Our beautiful world needs action to save it before it is too late. We can all do our part by leading an eco-friendly lifestyle. HSIAO YIU-HWA

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