Happy Earth Day! Remember, the Earth is the only place in the universe that can be our home!
...That is, until we expand into space and terraform Mars, as is our destiny. At that point, Earth will be a sad cliché that we'll be embarrassed we ever embraced, much like bell bottoms or audio cassettes. But for now, it's our home.
And I mean that literally: The Earth is our home. That's it. It has no rights, justification, value, or purpose other than providing human beings with a lovely habitat. (Animals live there too, of course. But concepts such as "rights," "justification," and "value" are human inventions. For a demonstration, ask a squirrel how it feels about the ratification of the sixteenth amendment.)
So if the Earth is our home, it means that we humans have the equally crucial status as the Earth's tenants. This leads us to the oft-overlooked corollary: To love the Earth, you have to love people.
Loving people means that you look at a smokestack and think: Well, it is a pity that the air is getting all full of crap, but on the other hand, that factory is producing ball bearings! And it is far better to have crappy air than no technology. So let's love our technology, and then, maybe evolve technology that also craps up the air less — the Prius principle.
Environmentalists, sadly, aren't so much about loving people. Oh, to be sure, third graders writing compulsory reports about oil-drenched gulls will momentarily call themselves environmentalists. But true environmentalists champion nature because they hate people. If you poke beneath the surface of such handy tips as "Walk more — it's healthier!" you find a subtext of "You have no right to a car, you cretinous plague on the face of holy Gaea!" These people have issues; let them vent their Green Rage to a therapist, not to our congressmen.
So let's put aside the wackos who don't want you to drive to the store because they'd honestly rather you not eat at all. The Earth is a beautiful place full of mystery and complexity and scope and sheer awe-inspiring prettiness. Let's be happy we live there, and celebrate that by continuing to live there in the manner that serves us best.
Michael G. Shapiro lives in Los Angeles, where he writes music for film, television, and multimedia. Samples of his work can be found on his web site, www.mikemusic.com. He has spoken at TOC's Summer Seminar on film music and Objectivist epistemology. He would be upset if the Earth were demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass.