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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Remembering the significance of planet earth

Published: February 26, 2010
Section: Opinions

The new “it” thing these days is to go green. People around the world find delight in being able to say things such as, “My new Toyota Prius is environmentally friendly,” or “My dorm has been green certified.” But the reality is that people’s lifestyles are not drastically changing in order to fit the needs of the environment.

Yes, people are continuously more concerned about issues such as deforestation, land and water pollution and the big one – global warming.

However, people don’t really know the essence of the many problems our planet is facing, nor do they know how exactly going green is helping the environment.

People succumb to such a mode because others are doing it, because it is easier, or, simply, because it’s comforting to know that something you are doing is “good for the planet.”

Yet most people do not really know why it is that turning off a TV, or switching off a light, will make such a huge in the long run.

The truth is people don’t really go out of their way to help the environment because many have never been exposed to a rural world. We live in concrete jungles, forgetting the importance of nature and the Earth itself.

I myself am a victim of this urbanized society, and had forgotten the significance of “Planet Earth” until this winter break when I was lucky enough to travel to one of the most remote and breathtaking places in the planet–Bolivia.

It lies in the heart of South America, a most controversial country swimming in problems – ranging from government corruption, poverty, and continuous instability. Yet, in the midst of all these difficulties lies a tapestry of wonders. Bolivia’s rainforest is home to one of the world’s richest arrays of plant and animals species. A rainforest in which new creatures are discovered everyday lurking behind the enormous tree trunks and intertwining branches.

As part of my adventure I experienced living in the real jungle for four days. In the Beni River, located in Eastern Bolivia, roams a “Flotel” or floating hotel. Basically the idea behind this hidden attraction is to live, breathe and ultimately become one with nature.

I lived in this boat four days. During the nights, I slept out in the open– on a hammock in the upper deck of the boat. I was able to see the stars in the sky like I had never before, and I realized how magically soothing sleeping outdoors can be. Of course, there was a price to pay: the next morning I was completely devoured by mosquitoes.

During the day time I went swimming with pink river dolphins, a species endemic to Bolivia. I also took various nature walks through the depths of the forest–while listening to the sounds of nature. Overall, a feeling of serenity, one which I had never experience in an urban surrounding, overpowered me. I was completely free. I could jump into the river when I pleased, or relax on the deck while taking in the vastness and beauty of the jungle.

Having been exposed to a world so different from what I know–if only for a few days – made me think about how easy it is to forget our planet.

People tend to get caught up in the industrial, capitalist world, and completely disregard the environment. The very jungle I learned to love so much is currently facing, among others, terrible threats of deforestation. The wood found there is destined to be turned into fuel to generate electricity, which in turn directly feeds your light bulb and your TV set.

So, next time you leave a light on, or forget to switch off the TV just remember that you are one step further away from experiencing the planet in its rawest and purest of ways.