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Gaia - A Talk Given by us Recently at a Pagan Moot on Earth's Pollution Problems

· 2971 words · about 15 minutes

Good evening everyone. We are david & szara from Earthglade.

Welcome to our talk entitled saving Gaia.

I as you can see am wearing a toga. No I am not off to a party afterwards. I am for the purposes of this talk, taking on the persona of Socrates. (socrates cartoon) Socrates was a free thinker who was a model of integrity and challenged complacency. As you can see he liked to challenge the status quo. He was also a teacher. So welcome to your lesson for tonight.

So without further ado, let’s get the party started. (gaia pic)

(Lucky dip plastic!)

To many Gaia is the Earth, or the belief that she is the spiritual embodiment of the earth, or the Goddess of the Earth.

But whether you call her Gaia, Tierra, Monde, Erde, Earth or even discworld, it's our ball of dirt that we live upon and it has its own ecosystem.

An ecosystem is the interaction of plants, animals and small organisms in a certain environment. All three feed and procreate to keep the ecosystem alive. There are thousands of ecosystems of varying sizes on Earth. Due to global warming and pollution, many ecosystems are suffering.

Lets consider pollution first.

Now I am going to relate this to the elements of the earth; Air, Water, Earth, Spirit/ether and Fire.

I have some props, who dosn’t like a prop.

We have a lovely skull candle to represent AIR (burn skull candle)

(air pollution pic)

Pollution has been an ever increasing threat to Gaia since man learned to use it's resources in an unsustainable way. Towards the end of the 18th century the industrial revolution starting using vast amounts of coal, thus increasing co2 emissions into the atmosphere along with the release of methane whilst mining. Methane has a global warming potential 21times that of carbon dioxide. Over 50% of the human addition of carbon to the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels has occurred in the last 25 years. Most of this has come from car emissions. Other pollutants of our air include volatile organic compounds, radiation and biologically active compounds leaked by industrial production. Also 18% of greenhouse gases come directly or indirectly from the world’s livestock.

Right next WATER. We have a lovely skull bottle with a dubious liquid inside. Somehow seems familiar to me hmmm.

(water pollution pic)

Water pollution happens when dangerous foreign substances are introduced to water, including chemicals, sewage, pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural runoff, or metals like lead or mercury. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44% of assessed stream miles, 64% of lakes and 30% of bay and estuarine areas are currently not clean enough for fishing and swimming.

Warming water can also be harmful. The artificial warming of water is called thermal pollution. It can happen when a factory or power plant that is using water to cool its operations ends up discharging hot water. This makes the water hold less oxygen, which can kill fish and wildlife.

The textile industry is one of the biggest polluters of our waterways.

Greenpeace’s recent Detox campaign has been instrumental in pressuring fashion brands to take action to remove toxic chemicals from their supply chains, after it tested a number of brands’ products and confirmed the presence of hazardous chemicals. Polyester is the most popular fabric used for fashion. But when polyester garments are washed in domestic washing machines, they shed microfibres that add to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans. These microfibres are minute and can easily pass through sewage and wastewater treatment plants into our waterways, but because they do not biodegrade, they represent a serious threat to aquatic life. Small creatures such as plankton eat the microfibres, which then make their way up the food chain to fish and shellfish eaten by humans.

Onto EARTH. Here we go a skull of skulls. Lovely isn’t it.

(land pollution pic)

The basic definition of land pollution is the destruction and contamination of the land through the direct and indirect actions of humans. This can be broken down into five areas.

1. Deforestation and soil erosion

When forests are cleared for development and to meet the demand for wood supply, the soil is loosened in the process. Without the protection of the trees, the land becomes barren over time and starts to erode. 50% of the planet’s topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years.

2. Agricultural chemicals

Part of the farming process often involves the use of harmful pesticides and insecticides to protect crops. However, the chemicals can cause the land to become barren. The once-fertile soil is then more susceptible to environmental elements, such as the wind.

3. Industrialisation

The Industrial Revolution may have resulted in significant positive changes to the economy and society, but it also led to significant pollution of the land. Through unsafe disposal practices for chemicals used in manufacturing, poor regulation, and the overwhelming number of industries and factories that are polluting the land daily, industrialisation has become one of the main contributors to the pollution problem.

4. Landfills

The garbage found at landfills is filled with toxins that eventually seep into the earth. During rains, the toxins are washed into other areas and the pollution is spread. As the population grows, the amount of garbage filling landfills also grows.

5. Human sewage

Untreated human waste can produce toxic gases that can seep into the ground. As with air pollution, the soil quality is negatively impacted, and land nearby can be contaminated. In addition to this, the probability of human illnesses occurring increases.

Now for my favourite element Spirit. Oh! It seems it has become PLASTIC. The Earths looking a little deflated.

(plastic pollution pic)

It seems Plastic is quickly becoming an element of Gaia. It's everywhere, its in our homes, our workplaces, it threads its way through our very existence. Its also in our oceans and our land.

As of 2018, about 380 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide each year. From the 1950s up to 2018, an estimated 6.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced worldwide, of which only an estimated 9% has been recycled and another 12% has been incinerated.

Plastic can take between 50 to 600 years to degrade depending on the type of plastic. Even then it can become a microplastic in our waterways.

Plankton, fish, and ultimately the human race, through the food chain, ingest these highly toxic carcinogens and chemicals. Consuming the fish that contain these toxins can cause an increase in cancer, immune disorders, and birth defects.

A 2017 study found that 83% of tap water samples taken around the world contained plastic pollutants. In the UK this figure was 72%.

In 2012, it was estimated that there was approximately 165 million tons of plastic pollution in the world's oceans.

Right on a positive note and by jove we all need one right now. What can be done about plastics. Lets take a closer look.

Not all plastics are equal. Not all plastic is bad.

You all have been clutching your piece of plastic lovingly, now its time for a test!

Here are 2 boxes entitled good plastic and bad plastic.

What I want you to do is look at your plastic, touch it, smell it, taste it and decide whether it can be recycled or not. If it can put it in the good box, if it can’t put it in the bad box.

Well done.

(Inspect results. Sort it properly if needed. General terms to live by. Crinkly to stretchy. Pile bad on gaia.)

Oh dear she dosn’t look so good.

Lets look at the various plastics and their symbols.

(plastic recycling pic)

(Explain symbols and what they are)

Point of interest most plastic can only be recycled once or twice before being down cycled into things like clothes which will end up in landfill.

Now lets look at local recycling symbols.

(recycling symbols pic)


Now I have a little treat for you. Something I found on Norwich’s recycling website. Cue video.

(show county council video)

I want you all to dance like that when you go to the recycling centre, it would be brilliant.

As you know not everything is recycled at our centres and more often than not, this is down to cost and what equipment they have at their disposal. But never fear Socrates is here.

There is a company called Terracycle.

(terracycle list pic)

(Explain about terracycle)

Also for all your plastics that cannot be recycled or Terracycled, then they can be Ecobricked.

(ecobrick pic)

(Explain about ecobrick)

So technically I could now remove some of this plastic from Gaia, but more work needs to be done.

There are also plastic alternatives coming slowly which are made from plants, such as corn starch, mushrooms and seaweed, but it is better to reduce the amount of plastic produced.

Onto which now has become our fifth element of FIRE. Which is represented by this tall skull candle. (light candle)(fire pic)

This is representing global warming and I just added to it, sorry.

All this aforementioned pollution is of course having an effect on Gaia. Apart from poisoning our air, land, sea and ourselves it is adding to the overall warming of our planet. Human activities have caused the planet’s average surface temperature to rise about 1.1°C since the late 19th century.

The effects of climate change are everywhere. Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting, leading to rising sea levels. The frequency and strength of storms is increasing, leaving destruction in their wake. And rainfall patterns are shifting, causing devastating droughts and floods.

As our climate breaks down, billions of people are already struggling to cope and it’s the poorest who are being hit hardest. Powerful cyclones have devastated the lives of millions of people in the Philippines. Forest fires in Russia and Europe have covered cities in thick polluting smoke. And closer to home, catastrophic floods have turned lives upside-down in Yorkshire, Somerset and Cumbria.

In drier, hotter conditions, wildfires rage out of control, reducing mighty forests to ash. The oceans are warming and the water is becoming more acidic, causing mass coral die-offs and the loss of breeding grounds for sea creatures. Delicate ecosystems that are home to insects, plants and animals struggle to adapt quickly enough to the changing climate, putting one million species at risk of extinction. In 2018 a freak heatwave in Australia killed 30,000 bats in two days. This means our food security, health and quality of life are all under threat.

The state of the climate and the health of our planet’s living systems are intimately linked, and changes in one will radically affect the other.

In 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists including the majority of living science Nobel laureates, penned the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” calling on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and warning that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” They showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

In 2017, humanity was given a second notice. Over 15,000 scientists signed a new and even more urgently worded letter which warned that “To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”

Well what can we all do to help save Gaia? (gaia pic)

Groups such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion are highlighting the problems facing our planet and are fighting for recognition of the facts.

Both groups are lobbying the government in their own way, whether it be signing petitions or using non-violent direct action to provoke a response.

The following is a statement from Greenpeace.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, that climate change is too big to solve. But we already have the answers, it’s just a question of making them happen.

Fossil fuels need to be quickly replaced with cleaner, renewable energy like wind and solar power. Governments and companies need to further invest in low carbon transport solutions.

We need to stop destroying forests for intensive agriculture such as cattle farming and palm oil plantations, allowing the trees to regrow and planting hundreds of millions more. And creating ocean sanctuaries will provide protected areas in which sea life can flourish away from the threats of industrial fishing, helping to restore the oceans’ natural balance.

Around the world, millions of us are taking steps to defend our climate. Indigenous Peoples are trying to keep out fossil fuel industries that want to destroy their land or put their water supply at risk from oil spills. Communities in the Pacific Islands, who are facing sea level rise and more extreme weather, are using their strength and resilience to demand world leaders take quicker climate action. Tens of thousands of school strikers and people from all walks of life have taken to the streets demanding a solution to the climate emergency.

Over the years, Greenpeace has challenged oil companies chasing new supplies. We’ve also called out the UK government for their failure to act fast enough on the climate emergency. Meanwhile, ordinary people have blocked tankers and fracking rigs. And we’re letting everyone know that renewable energy is the answer to fossil fuels.

What can we do as individuals? (people save pic)

The following are suggestions.

Join Greenpeace and Extinction rebellion in their quests to save humanity.

Send letters to the government or your local MP.

Share your concerns with others.

Make little changes to your life that will make a positive not negative effect on the planet.

Things like;

Clothing: Synthetic clothing adds to the plastic microfibres going into our oceans, but even cotton clothing can use vast amounts of natural resources to produce. What’s the answer? Only buy clothing when you need it and then buy second hand clothing or organic cotton clothing which can be traced to a sustainable source. This has the GOTS certification.

Food: Some say not eating meat will help by reducing livestock, hence reducing methane into the atmosphere. Although this is true, if the whole of America stopped eating meat it would only reduce the effect on global warming by 2.9%. The answer here and with other foodstuffs is to buy locally as much as possible. Thus reducing imports and carbon miles attached to such things. Buy organic as much as possible to encourage farmers to produce more this way. I know it can be more expensive, but enough people doing this will eventually lead to decreased prices.

Travel: Depending on the country, between 25 – 30% of all carbon emissions into the atmosphere come from petrol and diesel cars. Aircraft add to this as well. The answer? Only travel when you need to. I am not saying don’t go on that holiday, but try to find the least carbon footprint way possible. Travel share, walk, cycle get an electric car.

Shopping in general: Everything we purchase has an effect on the planet. We can reduce the carbon footprint on items by buying locally as much as possible or if this can’t be achieved buy things we know come from a sustainable and ethical source. When you next purchase something, ask where does it come from? Can it be reused, repaired or recycled effectively? Does it really need to be covered in plastic? Do I really need it? The lovely people at Earthglade created their business because of this plight. They wanted to find things which were used everyday to have the lowest carbon footprint possible. It’s an ongoing struggle that takes time and effort. But its worth it, its worth our planets future.

(look at gaia)

Oh dear (touches plastic)

Szara do you think you could help save gaia?


I am going to plant some trees and seeds to encourage the bees and the wildlife. I gonna take these bad plastics away and I am going to continue to respect the earth, honour and nurture her in anyway I can and encourage others to do so. I am now going to light a candle so you can see Gaia’s true beauty. I now want you all now to sit and think what you can do to make a difference. (hand out paper and pens)


This is sacred oath to ourselves. Write it down and take it home. Look at it in the days to come. It is you starting point, something to build upon.

All done?

Bear in mind Oaths sworn in the name of Gaia, in ancient Greece, were considered the most binding of all.

We live in a Throwaway society. Bye bye earth. (throw planet)

We make, we use, we throw away.

It should be; we make, we reuse or repair, we recycle or return to the earth in an organic way. But this must be sustainable.

All I have spoken about tonight with links can be found in the blog section of the website at

Finally I leave you with this lovely cartoon. (human help pic)

Remember: Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle!

And in the words of Bill & Ted, be excellent to each other!

Thank you!

Any questions?

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