Let's launch the Half the Planet movement
"Carpe diem, quam minumum credula postero" said Horace in his Odes. Seize the day, you know not what tomorrow brings. So, together, let's do it!
Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 BC to 8 BC, the son of a freed slave, became one of Rome's greatest poets, known to us as Horace. It was he who penned the expression Carpe Diem (Seize the day, or take advantage of today), quam minimum credula postero (you know not what the future brings, or have the minimum faith in what is to come). As a member of the epicurean movement, Horace believed in cultivating what is good in the soul (and therefore leaving out what is unhealthy and unimportant).
Suppose this Summer as we all get ready to enjoy ourselves, we spent a fleeting second to think about a common good, global ethical practices and preparing our biosphere (not exactly ours, for we share it with others), for future generations? And suppose we seized this opportunity to launch a movement, let's call it Half the Planet, leaving half of our biosphere untouched by the human hand for our brothers and sisters, the animals and plants we share our home with, to prosper?
A visionary who took full advantage of the epicurian adage carpe diem is Brazil's world famous photographer, Sebastião Salgado (born in 1944), who has favored social causes and has portrayed them in his work, and who together with his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado, has invested his energy supporting a reforestation project in the state of Minas Gerais, bringing life to areas formerly barren and showing that we can create biomas from nothing. Plant trees, and animals appear.
Sebastião Salgado has spent three quarters of a century raising awareness and doing something about it, together with his wife. In doing so, he proved that anyone can become a great (wo)man and make a difference, anyone can become a hero(ine) even if the contribution is small in comparison. It starts with education.
Incredible as it may seem, most people do not cultivate themselves and quest for knowledge. In some regions, women, especially, are punished for being "knowledge seekers" because the more ignorant they are, the less autonomy they will have and they will be relegated to a subservient place serving and cooking and acting as a receptacle for the husband's sexual desires. Nothing more.
Incredible as it may seem, and I know this because I have been working with the media for the last forty-odd years, most people do not read an article beyond the headline; those that do, spend an average of two point six seconds skimming through the lead and as the article goes on, more and more readers are lost with every paragraph. Very few finish reading the piece until the end.
All it takes is for someone to join a local association, or club, or start one up, where people share knowledge and ideas about any issue of interest, or a quick Internet search on "Organizations Charities Environment" or some such key words.
We are very fast moving towards a calamitous situation which will come far faster than we think and which will have consequences, tangible consequences, for our children and grandchildren. The polar ice caps are melting at unprecedented rates, meaning the oceans will rise and invade coastal areas, where most people live. Environmental refugees are not a figment of the imagination, they already exist. Thousands of species with unique qualities and characteristics are dying as a result of human activity, even before they are discovered.
For our planet, the touch of the human hand is the touch of Satan. Growing swathes of our planet are becoming toxic wastelands, the sea is polluted from bottom to top with plastics, and poisons, and harmful chemicals dumped into the water; our coral reefs are dying, our rivers are drying, our planet is crying.
So let the spatial planners draw up measures, let the people take this up on the political agenda, holding our representatives to account, and create the Half the Planet movement, in which half the planet is untouched by human hands and as a result is unspoilt. The alternative is to carry on as we are, encroaching into habitats, losing more and more keystone species, murdering orang-utangs by burning down their forests, murdering elephants and rhinoceroses for their tusks and horns, murdering countless species in the Amazon to please Brazil's timber merchants and beef farmers until we have nothing left by the end of the century.
I won't be here by then, thank God. But my great- grandchildren will. So let us remember Horace, Venite, carpe diem! (Let us seize the day) let us remember Sebastião Salgado, and do something about it!
Half the Planet.
Photo 1: Por Charles te Mechelen - Rhino Resource Center, Domínio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2912536
Photo 2: The author in 2018
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey works in the area of teaching, consultancy, coaching, translation, revision of texts, copy-writing and journalism. Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru since 2002, and now Co-Editor of the English version, he contributes regularly to several other publications in Portuguese and English. He has worked in the printed and online media, in daily, weekly, monthly and yearly magazines and newspapers. A firm believer in multilateralism as a political approach and multiculturalism as a means to bring people and peoples together, he is Official Media Partner of UN Women, fighting for gender equality and Media Partner with Humane Society International, promoting animal rights. His hobbies include sports, in which he takes a keen interest, traveling, networking to protect the rights of LGBTQI communities and victims of gender violence, and cataloging disappearing languages, cultures and traditions around the world. A keen cook, he enjoys trying out different cuisines and regards cooking and sharing as a means to understand cultures and bring people together.