EARTH DAY 2018
The State of the Planet
and What You Can Do to Help Fix It
So here we are again, April 22, Earth Day, the one day a year that belongs to the “Mother of us all,” Senator Gaylord Nelson, environmentalist, conservationist, consumer advocate, small business proponent and a lover of peace founded the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, a “teach-in” to raise the nation’s awareness on environmental issues. About 20 million people showed up and Nelson’s efforts paid off, resulting in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency on December 2, 1970 by then President Richard Nixon. It also led to the expansion of some of our most important national legislation like the Clean Air Act, (originally passed in 1963 and amended in 1970), and the Clean Water Act (originally enacted in 1948 as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, and reorganized and expanded in 1972). Now, almost 50 years later, we’re still gathering, raising awareness, and trying to do right by Mom because that’s what kids are supposed to do, right?
According to the Brookings Institute, the UN, the World Health Organization, among other organizations, and good ole’ common sense, we need to do a little better, particularly when it comes to environmental policy. It’s no secret that the current administration is not a fan of the environment, preferring to focus on the economy and building borders, but I believe it’s safe to say that good environmental policy = good economic policy, especially with all the new technology out there waiting to be developed, so let’s get on that, people and save the planet while we’re making a few bucks.
In the interim, here are a few things happening in the U.S. and around the globe, like the good, the bad, and the ugly of environmental issues. I’ll let you decide what categories they each belong in.
- U.S. household water use, thanks to states like California who, probably thanks to climate change, always seems to be in a drought these days, has returned to 1990 levels.
- The Paris Climate Accord which hopes to reign in climate change, one of the biggest challenges of our lifetimes, is going strong, but sadly, without the presence of the U.S. who pulled out of the deal last year and is showing no signs of changing its mind.
- Plastics, that ubiquitous compound that has improved our lives on so many levels, is not going away any time soon. From a product standpoint, that’s good, but from an environmental one, it’s scary.
- Over 2.3 billion people don’t have access to improved sanitation (and are often forced to defecate in the open) while about 1 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water. Think about that the next time you turn on the tap.
- The water burden is women’s burden and it results in all kinds of health and economic disparity.
- We are going extinct and we didn’t even know it, and it’s happening at levels that were last seen when we lost Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- Civility has left the building, just like Elvis. I don’t need to give you a link for you to see this one. Just walk out your door. We’ve are being horrible to each other and we’ve got to stop.
So what can you do to contribute? There are so many things, way too numerous to mention, but anything you can do to improve your little part of the world will help. As for me, I helped plant a rain garden with a group of high school students and some lovely homeowners who wanted to do their part for the planet.
Rain gardens look cool, they help water hang around for a while so it can seep slowly back to groundwater rather than rush off down the storm drain, they filter out toxins and pollutants from entering the streams and rivers so they improve water quality, and it’s another connection with your mother, earth, that is.
Earth Day is not just about bugs and bunnies, but people, too. We are part of the earth, just like the soil, the sand, and the air we breathe, and we need to replenish ourselves the same way we need to replenish our mother. So before you dismiss Earth Day as just some environmentalist fluff, remember, we’re all stuck together here on this tiny little globe so if Mom says go take out the trash, or clean up your room, or don’t throw your smelly socks on the floor for someone else to pick up, maybe it’s time to listen to her.
Make this Earth Day count.
p.s. and coincidentally, just found out that we got an award for our efforts. This is the third of four planned rain gardens this school year. It feels awesome to be part of this team effort.