On Earth Day, Considering the Significance of Individual Actions

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. — Ryunosuke Satoro

A beautiful statement on the power of collective action, this quote from Japanese poet Ryunosuke Satoro is particularly apt on Earth Day.  

The challenges we face from our changing climate are many: heatwaves, flooding, drought, and wildfires that affect people, animals, insects, and farmers’ crops, threatening the food supply in some areas. (The Guardian did a graphic representation of the climate change problem in October 2021, considering worst-case scenarios, intermediate, and best-case. It is worth a look.)

With its many impacts, the climate change problem can feel overwhelming and the lack of sustained global action frustrating. Personally, I fall into pessimistic thinking fairly easily, especially on this issue. That’s when I recall Ryunosuke Satoro’s image of the single drop falling into the ocean and another, similarly themed, from Blaise Pascal: “The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.”

Every choice you make to combat climate change can influence others, be it your children, parents, partner, co-workers, or friends. If, for example, you talk about your efforts to reduce food waste, you make others conscious of the problem; you may even inspire them to reconsider the amount of food they purchase and toss in a given week. 

Maybe vehicle emissions are your biggest concern. By walking, cycling, or using public transit, you might get others thinking of how they can cut back on the number of trips they make by car. 

Or maybe it’s the loss of green space, farmland, or natural habitats that worries you. Creating petitions or letter writing campaigns to question local governments on land use planning can start the ball rolling on significant change and motivate others to get involved.

With all the negative headlines out there about the state of our climate, it is easy to get discouraged, to feel like you should give up. Don’t. Small actions can lead to something bigger. If you have any doubts, just remember that single drop in the ocean radiating outward.

Earth line drawing: 216760931 © Malachianastasia | Dreamstime.com

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