Earth Day's golden anniversary | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Earth Day's golden anniversary

  • The environmental movement came of age April 22, 1970

    Wednesday, April 22, 2020
    The author among the redwoods on Earth Day 2019

    Editor's note: This essay is inspired by the author's lecture series, "Deep Ecology, Synergism and Sustainability," which she covers in great detail for UMES' marine and estuarine ecology students.

    By Madhumi Mitra

    The concept of “Integral Synergism” is based on cosmic unity, which encompasses positive interactions between and among humans and other species - along with compassion for Mother Nature. Through an integrated approach of environmental and human synergism, we are able to identify our “eco-friendly”, extended “Self” or “Being.”

    Such a realization is essential for promoting sustainable lifestyles in terms of food, energy, health and the environment, and achieving optimal mental and spiritual health. 

    The principles of Hinduism and Buddhism idealize and emphasize interconnection, thereby initiating a mindset that creates a productive and cooperative relationship between humans and nature.  Islam and Judaism also mention connectivity with nature and its healing properties at physical, mental, and spiritual levels.  In the stewardship interpretation of Christianity, the Bible endorses environmental synergism as well. 

    Integral synergism often is overlooked as an essential component in education due to the precedence of the ego-centric, limited, individuality operating on anthropocentric principles. 

    We should foster a more positive future for all life on the planet. If we really aspire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly (more than 50%) within the next few decades, it is imperative we take resort to a culture of innovation that is "self-configuring", "cognitive" and "organic". 

    Scientists, engineers and economists should work collaboratively towards building a more sustainable world, where products that are created could be used as raw materials leading to "zero waste." 

    Compostable cars; plastic made of algal and insect proteins; biodegradable electronics; construction materials from algae; robots feeding off plastic waste; solar planes; and machines made of organic materials are some of the examples of technology that could lead to a regenerative economy. 

    Happy Earth Day to all!

    Dr. Madhumi Mitra is a professor in UMES' Department of Natural Sciences whose specialty is botany.