Where Will You Be When We Save The Planet?

By Russ Rankin

About a hundred years ago, when I was first being introduced to punk and hardcore music, one of the things that grabbed me and held my attention was the direct urgency of it. Times were a bit different then: the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war and there appeared to be no hope for reconciliation between the two dominant superpowers. After its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, America was flexing its military muscle across the globe and, here at home, President Ronald Reagan was shaping an economic legacy that would leave millions of Americans out in the cold and from which we are still recovering.

The bands I was drawn to were singing about what was going on around me. It was current and vital but most of all it was empowering. Had it not been for my exposure to this scene and the bands who were part of it, I doubt I would have become as politicized as I am and I may have been doomed to live a life of perpetual marginalization like so many of my generation.

When our news, teachers, authority figures, and parents tell us every day that we don’t count, it’s no surprise that we begin to believe it. Punk and hardcore music said, “You DO have a voice!” The people who were in these bands were just like me: desperate to shape our own destiny in a world that seemed to be spinning out of control. I finally understood that if I wanted to have a say in what was going on in the world I had to stop waiting for somebody else to give it to me.

Punk and hardcore music pushed me to do my own research, to educate myself and most importantly to question the myopic picture of the world which I was being sold by the establishment.

We are at a crossroads, both in our lives and our history. Soon we will have an opportunity to add our voices to a rising chorus of progressive dissent and positive change. The situation may appear different, but the stakes are higher than ever.

Instead of a political enemy, today’s world is threatened by it’s own unabated lust for progress. Transnational corporations have managed to buy or finagle their way past existing regulations to spew toxins into our air and water and the American meat habit has driven us to destroy millions of acres of trees and grasslands for conversion to feed lots to raise animals for slaughter. Although the United States constitutes only four percent of the world’s population we are responsible for producing over twenty-five percent of its carbon dioxide emissions. So what can we do?

Just as I was inspired by the lyrics of countless bands years ago, we have a chance to educate, inform and empower ourselves right now today. It may seem like there’s nothing just one person can do. It might look like we’re screwed no matter what and there’s no point even trying. Wrong on both counts. Every positive change in this world has come about through people exchanging similar ideas, realizing they share a common cause and forming a movement. This environmental movement isn’t anything new, but the ways in which all of us can participate in it are.

Increasingly, cities and towns make it easy for us to recycle. We can drive hybrid cars and urge our friends and families to do the same. We can email companies or institutions we patronize and urge them to adopt more environmentally friendly policies or practices. We can organize boycotts and sign e-petitions. Technology has given us infinitely more avenues for activism than we had even ten years ago and we will have to use all of them because our planet is headed towards certain disaster if we fail to act soon. Scientists tell us there is still time to not only arrest but reverse much of the damage we have done to our precious ecosystem if we start NOW.

Believe it or not, by far the biggest contributors to Global Warming and the greenhouse gases that cause it are the meat and dairy industries. More than cars, airplanes and industrial businesses combined. Simply by going vegan (or even vegetarian) you can do the single biggest thing possible to save our planet. If you’re already veggie then here’s your chance to be an ambassador and an advocate to others and now you know that there’s much more at stake than one’s personal preference or moral absolution.

Knowing that eating meat perpetuates the most colossal threat to our environment might be just the information someone on the fence needs to hear to push them into action. Remember to be cool about it; nobody likes to be told what to do or that what they’re doing is wrong. You will have more success by pointing out all the good reasons to stop eating meat and by being a positive example of how easy it is. Even if you know someone who isn’t so concerned about the animal rights angle you might be able to get them thinking by pointing out the imminent environmental toll. No matter how we feel about vegetarianism we are all counting on our planet to remain livable for us and our children for years to come. The very fact that we are rapidly destroying the only home we have will hopefully motivate people to change their lifestyle, especially now when it’s easier than ever to stop eating meat.

Remember to do your own research. Know what you’re talking about. Question authority and the lies you were told when you were too young to think for yourself. If you have questions, check out websites like peta2, vegan.org, or americanvegan.org.

We all want this delicate planet to survive and the fact that many of us have been unconsciously contributing to it’s destruction much more than we need to isn’t in itself our fault but, once we have this information and accept it as fact and continue to do nothing then we have only ourselves to blame.

Now is our time, our moment to answer this generation’s call to arms. The stakes couldn’t be higher but together we can achieve anything. Years from now I hope we will all be able to reflect on this moment and remember exactly where each of us was when together we saved the planet.


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