Many students were engrossed in a passionate lecture Wednesday, given by the co-founder of Greenpeace International and Pulitzer prize nominee, Rex Weyler.
The topic of Weyler’s speech was titled “Ordinary Courage -What must we do today to offer future generations fair access to a sustainable and enjoyable life?”
Weyler addressed the time he has spent in environmental activism and what “ordinary people” can do today to change the world.
“We can now see so many signs that the environmental degradation, the destruction of the planet, has certainly gone too far and is in danger of really being out of control,” said Weyler.
Weyler began his discussion by explaining how most people have a preconceived idea that the market place, or the world economy, will save the planet from destruction.
“We remain in this delusion about what we’re doing. One of the signposts of this delusion is the whole idea that the market place is going to save us. We’ve bought and sold the whole planet. We are all participating in the sick culture. We’re all participating in this consumption – burning of the gasoline, the use of the resources,” said Weyler.
Many people think that by buying hybrid cars and green products, they are making drastic steps towards saving the environment. While those things are a small help to the world, their impact is often over-advertised. This over-extension of truth is called “green spin” and consumers should be aware that while they are doing good by buying more eco-friendly products, they need to think about the bigger picture of consumption.
“We’re not going to save the planet by driving hybrid cars. We’re not going to save the planet by buying green products. We can’t commercialize, we can’t think that by converting the market somehow to an ecologically aware market that we’re going to save the planet. It’s not going to happen,” he said.
He described how many people think about how they wouldn’t want to leave their children with less than they currently have, but many people are unaware of the problems the environment faces.
“Anybody who lives like most of us do – We have homes, hot and cold running water, we eat every day – We’re among the top 15% of the planet. We are the wealthy on the planet. If you have hot and cold running water, and you eat everyday, you are the elite.,” said Weyler.
“Because most of the planet is living subsistence life – barely. There’s about a billion people on the planet today living on the edge of starvation.”
Weyler said that 24,000 people starve to death daily. “We have to be careful about externalizing the problem and think that it’s somebody else. It’s us, it’s our lifestyle, it’s the way we talk, think and act – and we have to change,” said Weyler.
Weyler described a childhood science experiment in which a few fruit flies are placed in a jar with a tomato. As the tomato gets eaten, the fruit flies multiply drastically, until one day, the tomato is gone, and the fruit flies are all dead. This type of rapid expansion is called exponential growth in nature.
Weyler said that our planet earth is the tomato of the experiment, and that our current consumption and birth rates have left us half way through all of its resources.
“We’re just like those fruit flies. We’re halfway through the oil, we’re half way through the forests, we’re 80-90% through some fish species, we’ve spread our toxins all over the oceans, all over the farm lands.. We’re halfway through the tomato,” said Weyler.
He discussed how many great movements in our history, like the civil rights movement, happened because an ordinary citizen demanded change. He said that change is not going to happen from the government.