WORDS | Jessica Sheridan
Most people are pretty protective of their mothers, grandmothers or Aunts. Or all of the above. We might not always show it but we all really appreciate the mother-figures in our lives, because more often than not they are putting their happiness before our own. They take care of us. They nurture us. We would be hopelessly lost without them – no matter how often we claim to stand on our own two feet.
There is a mum in particular that seems to be disrespected and constantly abused. A mum that we all have in common…as weird as that sounds. Not only does she create a beautiful home for all of us and provide everything we need. she goes unthanked and forgotten.
We all owe her. A lot.
I am, of course, talking about Mother Earth.
If countries were children – China, India, the US and Australia would spend an eternity in the naughty corner for the environmental atrocities that have been committed. As would every other country.
I mean,think about it. This planet we live on and the nature that surrounds us is so important that we personified her as a maternal caregiver. Often it feels like we don’t remember to treat her as kindly as she deserves. The air we breathe, the food we eat – it was all handed down from this entity we have called Mother. Yet we still continue to destroy small parts of her every day. Earlier this year, the Australian government ditched the carbon tax that was put in place to help regulate emissions and protect the atmosphere. So what are we doing to protect the old girl now?
Luckily, some of her children haven’t forgotten about her.
In 2011, Bolivia was the first country in the world to provide legal protection of rights, similar to human rights but for nature. These laws, aptly named the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth accorded a number of protections upon the Earth; including a right to not be polluted, a right to life, and protection of air and water. Providing these basic rights to Mother Earth is incredibly symbolic, particularly in a country like Bolivia which thrives off a mining economy.
The laws were largely based on the indigenous beliefs of the area which focused on Pachamama, the goddess of earth and nature from which all life comes. Pachamama when translated means Mother Earth. Her protection was the sole focus of the law. It wasn’t to protect her for future generations necessarily, or protect her for our own good. It was, at its core, a reform designed to protect nature for nature’s sake. Not only were these laws the first to establish rights on the earth, but were also one of the first to directly reference a ‘Mother Earth’ entity.
Bolivia tried to move the rights even further, proposing a treaty to enshrine similar rights to the United Nations, but thus far no major action has become of it.
Global warming remains a very serious issue, with temperatures increasing and oceans changing. In fact the ten hottest years on record have all occurred within the last twenty years. At this point in time you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know about the negative impacts of climate change and how dire it is that we do something about it. So why aren’t we?
The human race is an amazing thing. We can build cities, we can cure disease, and we can put custard inside a pastry. We can climb mountains and swim in the oceans and built machines that allow us to actually fly above the earth. There is little doubt that we are the most advanced species on the planet, but unfortunately it appears we are also the most destructive. We continue to take away from the earth through pollution and deforestation. Even more unfortunate is that we have the technology and the intelligence to combat these environmental issues but aren’t using it to the best of our ability.
Australia, for example, is one of the worst offenders among developed nations when it comes to pollution. Yet we also have some of the most ample resources for alternative energy, such as wind and solar power. Even on a smaller scale, streets are still scattered with litter and many people don’t recycle. Is it financial barriers that hold us back, or is it sheer laziness? Whatever the issue, nobody can deny that we need to start looking after Mum – Mother Earth – before she grows too sick to take care of us anymore.
Sorry Mum, we will try to be better kids from now on.