Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring is here - and so is Earth Day

Although April 22nd was officially Earth Day, YSU is doing an Earth Day Celebration today, April 23rd. Hope you can make the celebration between 9:00 at 3:00 PM at the Youngstown State University Campus. While you're there check out the table sponsored by YESS, The Youngstown Environmental Studies Society. Please support their important activities. I also need to thank them for turning me on to this great video of Imogene Heap. It expresses the sorrow I and so many others feel when we think about the destruction of our planet earth.
Also,keep in mind that now Spring has arrived Treez Please and Grow Youngstown are out in the dirt, so contact me at Treez Please ,or via this blog, and come on out and get your hands dirty with us. This coming Saturday at the corner of Fairgreen and Ohio Avenue on the North Side of Youngstown we are preparing the land for planting. We'll be there from 9:00 AM until the early afternoon along with all the good people from the United Way Day Of Helping Project.

My good friend Jean Engle had a letter printed in the Vindicator yesterday. I reprint it here as a further reminder to think about the earth.

This is the day to think about the Earth and how we treat it
Published:Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Earth Day 2008 is the closest we’ve come in the United States to consensus on the Earth’s importance. For the first time, environmental issues are on the airwaves, on the Internet, and in the stores. Even WalMart is using the E-word, and every corporation wants to look green as grass.

That’s all very nice, but how do Earth Day and larger environmental issues play out in our everyday lives? Every flush of the toilet, every flip of the light switch, every trip to the mall, every forkful of food has environmental implications. True, for one person, they’re not large. What’s a couple of gallons of water that, in this part of North America anyway, is relatively plentiful? I only need the light on for an hour — a pound or two of coal at the power plant out of the tons they burn every day. And gas for the car? It’s only a couple of gallons to get to Eastwood and back.

The point, though, is this: our individual choices magnified a billion-fold add up to disaster for the planet. We in the post-industrial nations won’t feel the pain in our own lives for a while. If I read the papers or listen to the news, I’ll know that the Haitians are starving, right in our Caribbean back yard, in part because the price of staples like corn has skyrocketed, now that corn is going into wealthy nations’ gas tanks and not into poor nations’ bellies. I’ll know that the Arctic ice cap is melting rapidly and that the magnificent polar bear is probably doomed. But those of us in relatively privileged nations will be the last left standing, and, while the fate of the polar bear is tragic, there seems to be little we can do to prevent it. Maybe the zoos can keep them going for a while.

So is that all? Do I just shrug and walk away from it? Do I just go fill up the tank and run some errands, buy some more stuff to distract me from the pain I might feel? Maybe. Or maybe I join the millions of people who are finding ways to do things differently, in ways that sustain the environment rather than deplete it. Maybe I change my incandescent light bulbs to low-consumption compact fluorescents; maybe I put up a clothesline — the original solar dryer; maybe I turn lights off when I’m not in the room; maybe I install an on-demand water heater in my house; maybe I plant some new trees in my yard; maybe I ride my bike for short errands and carpool or take a bus to work (and vote for the WRTA levy); maybe I get involved with non-profits like Treez Please and Grow Youngstown that are working to make a difference at the local level. And maybe I send some money to one of the large environmental organizations like Natural Resources Defense Council or World Wildlife Fund that can exercise our collective clout to make changes on a national or even global scale.

For better or for worse, we are here now, being called on to prevent the destruction of our home. It’s all we have, and it’s in grave jeopardy. To borrow from JFK: If not now, when? If not us, who?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a little more optimistic about the polar bear than you seem to be. As far as I can tell there have been three other times in the last 1,500 years when the Arctic was as warm as or warmer than it is today. The polar bear got through those warmer periods just fine. It will do so again. And that assumes the climate is still warming, something about which I have increasing doubt.

A final point about polar bears. They are descended from grizzlies, can interbreed with grizzlies and are omniverous like grizzlies. Polar bears don't have to eat seals. Theyt can eat whatever grizzlies eat and do just fine, unless of course one believes grizzlies are about to go extinct too.

Regarding the notion that we should put polar bears on the endangered species list, the polar bear popluation has increased 400% in the last 50 years. Shouldn't we reserve the endangered species list for animals whose numbers are actually declining?