The Earth is not our mother. So let’s stop calling her Mother Earth. Let’s stop thinking of her as though she owes us unconditional love and will always be there for us. It is not her duty to feed us, shelter us, clothe us, protect us from harm, forgive us our misdeeds, educate us, clean up after us, maintain our health, laugh at our jokes, and admire our doodles.
The Earth is our landlady, and we humans are just one of her many tenants. She provided us with a beautiful home, and generously included food and drink in the lease.
She allowed us to progressively take over wider and wider swaths of land, to build roads and cities, to grow and multiply, to mine her mineral resources, to log her forests, to fish and sail her rivers and oceans. In return, she expected us to respect her property and to do our share of maintenance.
Instead, we have become the sort of tenants any self-respecting landlady will evict. We have trashed the joint and abused other tenants. We keep brutally fighting with each other and disturbing the peace. Not only that, but our overuse of fossil fuels is raising the temperature to a level that threatens to burn down the house. Many of the other tenants are complaining loudly: The polar bears, the tigers, the elephants, the butterflies, the inhabitants of coral reefs, countless others are clamoring to her to call us to account.
She is doing the math and realizing that she may be better off without us. She might miss the symphonies musicians composed in her honor, the poets’ odes to her beauty, the paintings reflecting her glory. She might even for a while remember fondly the buildings we wrought from her stones, the wine we drank from her grapes, the joy of our banquets, the laughter of our children, the cleverness of our many inventions.
She would not miss the constant warfare, the toxic spills and polluted air. She would not miss our selfishness, our greed, our arrogance, our stubborn refusal to reform our ways. She could return to wilderness. Forests would reclaim hillsides, and prairies the plains. Streams would run clear and fresh to seas that once again teamed with life. The air would clear. Birdsong would waken her mornings, the buzzing of myriad insects hum her summers, frogs and bats and wolves and owls would serenade her nights. She might miss us a little, but not for long. She is not our mother.