There is an official Earth Day website which indicates how far the observance has come since 1970. In addition, there are proclamations by governing bodies, festivals supporting “Mother Earth,” and oil and gas companies touting their actions to capture CO2 emissions and recycle plastics. I’m not sure any of this helps reduce the impact of humans on our shared environment, yet it may be better than a stick in the eye.
Exploitation of the environment has been basic to civilization, especially in the settling of North America. In the early days, North America was about land speculation and extraction of wealth from the so-called “newly discovered” place. It began with production of sugar, rice, cotton, tobacco and indigo, which required cheap land and abundant labor in the form of slaves or indigent white folks forced to migrate from Britain. We had and continue to operate an extractive economy supporting exports and consumers. Few want to give up their handheld mobile device or other modern conveniences to help save the planet, so the extraction part of the economy may grow along with the burgeoning population. By 2100 there are projected to be 10.4 billion people on our blue-green sphere, according to the United Nations.
People should do more to improve the environment than what each of us can do individually. It seems obvious that everyone: every business, organization, government, and individual must pull together to solve the climate crisis. Importantly, our political system must take the lead in climate action, regardless of the political outlook of individual elected officials. This holds true in authoritarian regimes where there are no elected representatives. When I wrote “everyone,” that’s what I meant.
What should we do? That’s an easy answer: support large scale, organized actions that will make a difference. If regulators say we should reduce CO2 emissions in new automotive products, then support it. If the Gulf of Mexico dead zones are a problem, then regulate the chemicals and processes that dump into the Mississippi River watershed. If our air is polluted by emissions from coal and natural gas-powered electricity generation, then convert to wind and solar. Solutions exist to clean up our air, water and land pollution. There are processes to develop new and better solutions to the climate crisis.
Every day I do something small to help mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis. I reduce water usage, adjust the thermostat a few degrees, turn off lights when not in a room, and minimize the amount of driving I do in our personal vehicle. Every day is Earth Day in our home, so the annual remembrance is not that important to me. What matters more is finding common ground to enable more solutions, reduce pollution, and clean up our land, air and water.
Spend a few minutes reading the Earth Day website, located here. Then talk to someone you know about how important it is we take action today to rescue our much abused planet and make a livable home for our civilization going forward. It could make our lives better in the process.
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