It’s Earth Day again, all I can remember from the mid ’70’s was a huge book my Mom bought with a picture of the earth from space on its cover and back. While growing up the Earth Day thing faded away along with bell bottom jeans, pizza collars, and rayon button down shirts and afros. In the ’90’s there was a brief come back, thanks to the Clintons and Gore but the tech boom erased it until the media picked up on the sky is falling mantra they have been screaming for the past 8 years. With that said and out of the way it is important to take a step back from our over-consumption fixations and look at what we can do to lessen our impact on the planet.
I grew up in the Boy Scouts of America, earned Eagle and later on Order of the Arrow. One of our fundamentals was low impact camping. You bring it in, you take it out. Spread your ashes, leave the site better off then it was when you arrived. A good philosophy we should be teaching our kids by example of each day. We are more aware today of where our trash goes, its effects on the landfills, water tables, and ground soil, this is good. It is only a bandaid though for the real problem. In America we are still the largest group of consumers in the world, well, for at least a few more years… thanks to the Chinese. It’s high time we started to live low-impact life styles as much as possible.
What do I do? Great you asked. For one, I no longer own a car. I take the subway or light rail as much as I can. Our home is full with florescent light bulbs. We turn on the minimal lights and don’t have the TV on for background noise, reading replaces that activity. I only use rechargeable batteries, some of which are 6 years old now! We flush our toilet only 2 times per day, after our shower at night and when we leave for work in the morning. At work I use the electric hand dryer, put my PC to sleep, turn off the monitor, and don’t use paper cups. Recycling in China is fairly new, you see old people collecting plastic bottles from the trash, people taking used news papers, styrofoam and such to centers for money, but it is still not realistic to separate trash here, they just heap it all together in the collection truck each day. Every little bit helps, it all adds up. It’s not some hippie living or sacrifice to make our lives uncomfortable and it works.
Plan trips, car pool, chose packages made from recycled paper, replace light bulbs, use rechargeable batteries, get a hy-brid, separate your trash and help educate your kids. Our planet is warming, that is true. Our polar caps are melting, this again is true. To be so conceded to believe we are capable of destroying the planet in 100 years is a farce. Our planet is not traveling around the sun in a perfect circular orbit. The earth is not a perfect sphere. Our daily rotation is not perfect and neither is our axis tilt. This means the earth goes through hot spells, cold spells, and moderate spells. Science can not find the crater of the impact that killed the dinosaurs, they can theorize about it but can not 100% prove it. We had 12 ice ages each lasting about 1,000 years back to back, that science can prove. In the age of the dinosaurs the climate was hot, very hot… again science can prove this. So it is safe to say we are in a temperate age between 2 extremes. The earth will get warmer, the ice will melt the sea will rise and planet will go on as it did for 4 to 5 billion years. Compare this with out scant 20,000 year probable existence. The Grand Canyon was once under water, during a hot climate. Off the coast of Australia they found evidence of dry land plants, over 100 meters below sea level, when most of our water was locked up in ice and glaciers. They have found cave paintings in the African desert showing sea animals and swimming. Our planet is constantly changing, we just need to adapt. We can’t prevent the planet from warming up, but we need to treat it better if we want to survive with a lifestyle that is sustainable for the next 20,000 years.
There are more people walking the planet today then have ever been born, this is a fact. We need to rationally think about our effects on the planet to ensure the eco system we rely on does not collapse. Life will continue without us, but we can’t if the current balance is shifted much more then it is now. The sky is not falling, just changing.