Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's All About Respect

I've been listening to all the events surrounding Earth Day today:  planting parties, gardening parties, concerts, barbeques. You name it, we do it to celebrate Earth Day. I question why we need Earth Day at all.

I grew up in Southern California when dirt was young and the sky was brown. I didn't know until I was mid-way through grade school that were there mountains to the north of where I lived. I'd never seen them. Why? Because the sky was smog-brown.

California passed really strict clean air laws governing auto emissions. We complained, because these damned new catalytic converters made cars more expensive. By the time I went to college, seeing the mountains north of where I lived was a daily event.

California didn't have Earth Day, but it had a respect for the planet we live on, the air we breathe, the water we drink. The rest of our country didn't catch on right away. Eventually, government began more regulations to save the earth from us.  People complained. Corporations complained. "Overturn the regulations and let us be responsible." That didn't work before. I'm not sure it will work today.

I looked at the small part of Planet Earth where I live. We have so much work to do to respect our world. In two weeks I'll take part in our local Clean Up Smith Mountain Lake weekend. Last year we took out more than 160 tons of trash in two days:  tree snags, refrigerators, a bowling ball, plastic water bottles, plastic chairs, plastic shopping sacks. Plastic, plastic, plastic.

Three weeks ago I gleaned three miles of roadside leading into our housing development. I filled six giant garbage bags, sorted for recycling, in three hours. I could do it again today and get the same results. People still throw trash out car windows. Trash flies out of the back of pickup trucks. Either way, it finds its way onto our roadsides, our waterway, our lakes.

If each of us did our small part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, if we didn't use the planet as our personal trash pit, if we respected our planet, every day would be Earth Day. Every day we would make our planet a cleaner, safer place to live. If we ignore the problems, regulations or not, we stand too good a chance of destroying our world. And there will be no "beam me up, Scotty" to a different planet.

Good bye for now. I'm going outside to dance in the rain and thank the gods for today.


Franz X Beisser said...

Good for you, Betsy.
I recently got up from a picnic table to pick up a blowing napkin. The thing blew by at least a dozen people and no one even noticed.

(what's this "gods" thing?)

J. R. Nova said...

I was talking to someone a while ago about Chicago. She had been there last in the 1970s. She thought it was still like she remembered it, and said she'd never go Chicago is a beautiful city and it's been that way for years.

Same with Phoenix. There was zero smog there last time I visited, though I remember being a little boy and not being able to see the valley from the mountains!

It's getting better, but mostly because of a few well-meaning individuals who have gotten stricter laws passed.

What would the Earth be like if we all did a little bit?


Betsy Ashton said...

J.R., what would the Earth be like if we all did a little bit? Uninhabited by humans, maybe??