Sandra Czadul is a member of WWF-Austria’s Generation Earth youth leadership team and sustainability blogger
Anthropocene and a new era of humanity
When Paul Crutzen, a Dutch meteorologist, introduced the term Anthropocene, he intended to draw attention, to the fact that “man” has seriously influenced biological, atmospheric and geological processes. That is why he suggested to name a new geological age after “us” – Homo sapiens! It is frightening and impressive at the same time, what we, humans, have been capable of, in the last 200 years. From the perspective of an individual, it can be hard to imagine the consequences of our actions. Over the time especially rich countries developed mindsets that are not only harmful for themselves but also the planet: Something is broken, you buy something new. You look for a house? Then bigger is definitely better. You feel like you are not worth it? Sure you are, but only if you perform well and make the economy grow. With this pattern of thinking we made our standards of living rise, and some of us can live a very good life. But at what cost? Not only that, many do not even have time to enjoy life, or that developing countries have to pay for our luxury. Also, the only thing we really need to live gets destroyed, by our ever expanding footprint.
Environmental issues are our problem
I came to the conclusion that we need to change our perspective. Until today, we, humans excluded ourselves from nature. But what are we, when not the product of natural processes? What connects all of us is the fact that we exist because of nature. Everybody, no matter what age, skin color, or religion, needs air to breathe, fresh water to drink, fertile soil to grow food and so much more, exactly what nature provides. First, we believed the earth is the center of the universe, today we believe we are the heart of this world. Somehow we distanced ourselves from this planet and take it for granted. What we do not realize, is that we need the earth to survive, and not the other way around. Intelligent mammals, like humans, can make decisions for the benefit of all beings, generations, and the earth. Also, if we got into this mess, we can surely find a way to get out of it. We, as a species are proud to be intelligent. So let’s prove it. An economic system that is geared to endless growth, in a world of limited resources, confronts us with ever greater challenges. While corruption, inequality of rights, and destruction happens in front of our eyes. We need to hold the decision-makers and businesses accountable to be better stewards of the planet. As their actions have major impacts on us and the earth.
The steps we take, and the choices we make
Humans are us! This is you and me! We have to decide if we want to continue to destroy the natural life-sustaining systems or change our lifestyles to live in closer harmony with them. I used to be told that as an individual I could not achieve anything alone. That may be true to some degree. But the truth is also that you’re not alone. We’re part of something much bigger and it’s a process. On our way, we can all learn from one another to create something inconceivable. The good news is: It’s not too late. Not yet, but we can no longer stick our heads in the sand. Everybody is needed for a planet where humans are the solution and not the problem. No matter what Age, but especially young people have a lot to fight for. It is all about the steps we take and the choices we make. On a global, but also individual level. This is our time, this is our hour!