EARTH DAY 2015: PROMISES YET TO BE KEPT
This particular Earth Day is important because we can no longer ignore the obvious – the Earth is in the midst of a severe environmental crisis and the time for correcting the nearly insurmountable problems is long past.
The first Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, initiated the Environmental Protection Agency and was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Yet in spite of this, worldwide pollution is overtaking the globe faster than we can find the means to stop it. Apathy, disbelief, and big business, intent upon getting bigger, are some of the many reasons for this. But the main culprits are overpopulation especially in industrialized nations along with modern technology. And from the same technology which created most of the problems must come most of the solutions.
We have become a throwaway society, thoughtlessly piling up mounds of garbage, some which will take hundreds of years to decompose; some which will never decompose. Even as technology continues in its efforts to halt the ongoing destruction of the planet, Earth citizens must undergo radical changes in both their thinking and their living habits.
In rural areas waste control is much easier. Newspapers are rolled into fireplace logs, food waste, such as egg shells, vegetable and fruit peels and even coffee grounds are composted for summer gardens. Cut grass is used for mulch and while in some areas garbage can still legally be burned, it's no longer a viable option. One of the ways we can cut down on waste is to buy fresh foods whenever possible and avoid products with excess packaging. Removing purchases from their boxes and leaving the packaging in the store might convince manufacturers that over packaging is not only unnecessary but can no longer be tolerated. Refusing to buy aerosol cans cuts down on damage to the ozone layer, and if done consistently can be a deciding factor in having them removed from store shelves. Industry produces what the consumer purchases. Boycotting is one power that consumers can use effectively. Carpooling has become popular reducing automobile emissions and savings on gas. Eating less red meat is healthy and would save some of the tropical rain forests in Brazil, where the forests are being converted to pasture land for that country's beef production. Within the United States, less beef consumption would free land for agriculture, instead of growing grain for cattle feed. Planting shrubs, bushes and trees creates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air.
In Nebraska, Arbor Day, the forerunner of Earth Day, was a day set aside for the planting of trees. One million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day which fell upon April 10. Planting trees and replenishing the earth was well-established in Europe long before this continent was settled. In colonial times, trees were cut down to clear the land for agriculture and homes, and housing itself consisted mainly of lumber. Native Americans respected the Earth, taking only what they needed to live on and replenishing the lands, as opposed to the settlers who killed massive herds of buffalo for sport, and until more recent years, never replenished the soil by crop rotation. Before the Industrial Revolution and the onset of mass production, people recycled out of need because there were no other options.
In order to live on a healthy planet we need to reestablish the law of supply and demand, only this time in relation to the Earth's priorities not our own. The Earth does not need us to do these things, as it is capable of adjusting to all manner of change and adapting to it. The Artic seas freeze in some periods and melt in others; the Earth cares not if the oceans rise up and flood coastal areas. People, animals and vegetation can be destroyed but the Earth will persevere. “Saving” the Earth perpetuates our own existence upon this planet.
Not all Earth changes are caused by civilization or industry. Many are natural cycles within the planet’s routine which changes according to its own inner and outer workings; sometimes over thousands of years and other times seemingly without warning. As Earth citizens it is imperative to live within our planet’s needs sometimes putting them before our own.
We cannot stop all catastrophic Earth events, but we can do our part to undo the extensive damage that we have inflicted upon our earthly home. Our lives and the lives of future generations are riding on the hope that it will not prove to be too little, too late. Let's leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren and teach them from birth how to love, nurture and protect our beautiful planet.