On December 7, 1972, Apollo 17 would make its way back from the last manned mission to the Moon. From a distance of 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles), the crew of that flight decided to take a snapshot of our lovely home, Earth. The photo would be called “The Blue Marble” and it would be one of the few photos we have that encapsulates our planet in its intrinsic glory.

The image quickly became iconic, representing the frailty of humanity’s propensity towards division. It simply depicted Earth and challenged us to think differently about our role in it. The ecological harm done to the planet takes no notice to the borders we put up against each other. The ecological harms we put on Earth transcend borders, and likewise affect the lives of all inhabitants on this planet. The response to this understanding was the growth of the modern environmentalist movement. Despite being considered a leftist scourge by some, the underlying principle environmentalists share is completely accurate, and best expressed by Carl Sagan. “A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.” Our conflict with each other and the Earth is a loss-loss, whether it is the rage of war, divisive hierarchical structures, and in this case, environmental degradation. In this respect, environmentalism should not be a politically-divisive philosophy, but instead it should be an all-encompassing philosophy that takes particular notice to the balance of Earth’s ecosystems.

All living organisms require resources from the ecosystem to meet their needs and wants. With this in mind, notice must be taken concerning the extraction, use, and conservation of those

limited resources, along with their ultimate impact on the environment. We cannot be ignorant that humans have undeniably made a permanent impact on ecosystems across the globe, so much so that the scientific community is currently contemplating the declaration of the Anthropocene.

As libertarians, we rightfully believe that individuals flourish in a free and open society. When our liberty is protected, instead of curtailed, we all reap the benefits of pursuing our happiness. But with the understanding of how interconnected global ecosystems are, environmental issues effect all of us involuntarily. Environmental degradation is a legitimate concern. I believe libertarians have an important role to play in the movement. Here are 12 things libertarians can do towards a sustainable and environmentally sound future.

  1. Become an environmentally-friendly consumer: Making an effort to base your consumer decisions on environmental concerns can contribute to the success of environmentally-friendly products, services, and business models on the marketplace.
  2. Change how you get around: Automobiles have been the dominant choice of transportation since the 1950s when it really started becoming mainstream. Unfortunately the environmental footprint of the average motorist is incredibly high compared to those who opt for more sustainable transportation like biking, walking, public transportation, and even ridesharing.
  3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: All three result in the decrease of an individual’s waste, and the conservation of resources is a plus, too. Seriously, this should be common knowledge.
  4. Pay attention to your non-renewable energy usage: Each individual’s usage of non-renewable energy contributes to resource depletion and pollution in some way or another. While it’s certainly practicable to use non-renewable energy at times, an individual should conserve that energy the best they can. Transitioning to renewable energy certainly does alleviate a lot of this problem.
  5. Change the discussion about environmental policy: Libertarians can also offer an alternative of more market-based policies (largely to internalize environmental externalities) such as;environmental full-cost accounting, pollution charge systems, tradable pollution permits,deposit-refund systems, the reduction of market barriers, and providing public information to consumers. Plus, libertarians can have a lot to say regarding dirty subsidies and rent-seeking legislation.
  6. Appreciate the intrinsic value of the natural world: Whether it is a hike through a national park, an eco-tourist trip in Latin America, or just going to a local botanical garden, all of these further your understanding of the intrinsic value of nature, and an appreciation for such.
  7. Fund environmentally-friendly kick-starters: Anyone working on a start-up will tell you it’s harder than you’d think, and they are right. So why not help these entrepreneurs bring an innovative green product or service to the market!
  8. Advocate for Property Rights: Property rights are heralded as a better way to manage environmental concerns, because they create incentives for property owners to be stewards to their land’s environment in order to maintain its value. Tort law can become a legal means to protect private property from negative environmental externalities, such as pollution, land degradation, and the damming of natural waterways, all of which can stifle an individual’s property rights.
  9. Stand up against military interventionism and warmongering: Just like the hippies of the 60s, today’s libertarians need to be just as loud and outraged at militarization and war. Besides the obvious threats the two pose, there is a great deal of environmental concerns. First, there is the resources wasted on sending our military overseas to fight. Second, we must acquire the resources to rebuild in the aftermath. Third, throughout the fighting, there are several unintended and sometimes intended environmental damages. And finally, the creation and use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons all have dreadful track records for environmental welfare.
  10. Immerse yourself in collaborative consumption (a.k.a. sharing economy): Collaborative consumption is a class of economic arrangements in which participants share access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership. This can range from usingAirBnB to rent accommodations in someone’s private home, using Zipcar to rent out your extra-vehicle, and even things like bikes, garden space, and even power tools!
  11. Do-It-Yourself: Many libertarians are advocates of self-reliance and personal responsibility, both of which DIYers demonstrate quite well. Whether you are starting an urban garden (or chicken coop if you feel like pushing limits), using a 3D Printer, or installing solar panels, taking a personal action is a remarkable testament to your commitment to sustainability, and could even save money.
  12. Volunteer your time: Putting your time to good use for an environmental project or cause can be a great way to directly contribute to making a more sustainable world. You can spend time volunteering on a forest restoration project or a community garden, and if activism is preferable, you can always join Friends of the Earth.

The advocacy of environmental welfare is not just for long-haired, tie-dye wearing treehuggers, but for everyone on this dear planet of ours. From the Inuits of Arctic Canada, to the impoverished families along the shores of the Yangzi River, to the urban professionals of Sydney, the effects of climate changes, environmental degradation, and resource depletion are felt by us all. Because of this, libertarians have a decision to make. Are we going to embrace the environmentalism or are we going to be dismissive of environmental concerns? I believe this decision should be obvious. Let us challenge people to think differently about the environment this Earth Day!

This was originally written by Students For Liberty blog team member Chance Davies.