If you google on terms such as “Saving Mother Earth” or “Protecting God’s Creation” you will find countless websites exhorting you to recycle, reduce emissions, oppose rainforest destruction etc., for the sake of the planet. But the planet will be just fine whether you do any of these things or not.
If humankind succeeds in raising carbon concentrations in the air and the oceans to the point that we kill ourselves off, the planet would not mind a bit. Indeed, if it had an opinion, it would probably be delighted that such a damaging species has gone the way of the Dodo. It may take 10,000 years to undo the atmospheric damage, but that is but a heartbeat to a 4.5 Billion year old planet. Selling environmentalism as a kindness we are doing “Mother Earth” is inaccurate: It’s actually an effort to save our own hide.
Why does this matter? Human beings will often do altruistic things, like for example give to charity, donate blood and so forth. But very few members of our species prioritize altruistic acts over acts that preserve themselves and their children. I wonder therefore if we wouldn’t make more environmental progress if we stopped pretending that battling climate change was a nice favor we might choose to do an anthropomorphized planet and instead appealled more directly to people’s self-interest in themselves and their descendents surviving into the future.