50th Earth Day Coming Up

1970 Earth Day Button

I looked in the recycling bin and there were only eight items in it. Thursday is our day to leave the bin at the end of our driveway and I’m going to wait until next week.

It’s not that we’re throwing more in the trash instead of recycling. The trash bin is completely empty, making the second week in a row it remains in the garage as the trash collector comes through the neighborhood.

We’ve learned to reduce the amount of stuff we use, recycle what is accepted, and reuse what can be. In part we do that because of my participation in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.

Do the math. The 50th Earth Day is Monday and the news is that few are aware or interested, based on my personal interactions with people and reading news coverage.

I’ll have more to say on Monday, but a couple things are clear.

In the long run, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws enacted since the famous Earthrise Photo have run their course. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did good work for a time, which included measurable environmental improvements, yet in today’s de-regulatory government their future effectiveness is being gutted in favor of business interests.

The regulatory environment created beginning with President Richard Nixon didn’t do the job. Climate scientists indicate society is in a position where if we don’t de-carbonize and fast, within the next decade or so, there will be dire consequences. The Earth will be fine, but the people on it will not.

We see the effects of global warming everywhere. Vegetable farmers discuss ways to produce a crop that accommodates extreme weather we face. While row-crop farmers know how to a get a crop in the field in record time, the nutritional quality of food they produce is less because of global warming. This is not to mention the flooding in Iowa where 56 counties have been declared a disaster by the governor. We’ve had our share of straight line winds, drought, excessive and heavy rainfall, and flooding during the time we’ve lived in Big Grove Township.

We had good intentions on the original Earth Day. 50 Years later, we need a better, smarter movement to reverse global warming. Even if we do create such a movement, we let the problem go on so long the ecosystem will continue to change in ways that seem totally new and not for the better. There is no going back to some halcyon time when all things were great.

I’m not depressed about our current situation, even if there is cause. Our only hope is to remain engaged, to engage in actions that reduce our carbon foot print and mitigate the effects of damage already being done. With help from friends, I continue to believe that is possible.

I am working toward that end.

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