I have just started reading Tim Flannery’s "The Weather Makers" about the history of climate change, the impact of fossil fuels and suggestion for what we can do. I am not too far into the book, only a few chapters, yet I have already highlighted a section that I felt was worth thinking about and reading again. Here it is (paraphrased):
"It was Alfred Russel Wallace, a cofounder with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection, who came up with the phrase "the Great Aerial Ocean" to describe the atmosphere. It’s a far better name, because it conjures in the mind’s eye the currents, eddies and layers that create the weather far above our heads, and that are all that stand between us and the vastness of space…It is in our lungs that we connect to our Earth’s great aerial bloodstream, and in this way the atmosphere inspires us from our first breath to our last."
Regardless of what you think of the state of our environment, we are all connected to it by our breath. The stuff we pump into the air is exactly the same air we take in every time with inhale. There is really no escaping our behavior as most of us should have learned if you have ever dated.
I don’t believe acknowledging that idea or taking responsibility for our actions means you have to chuck in your job and live in a squat, unless it has solar panels or is off the grid. But perhaps thinking about the air we breathe from time to time and finding ways to protects its quality is part of living a socially responsible life, like supporting any other social privelege (public schools, libraries, parks).