05 April 2013

E is for Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It's observed on April 22 each year and is now celebrated in 192 countries. I remember the first Earth Day in 1970 when I was still in high school. Who knew that the Earth Day Network would grow to this size? And yet we really haven't come far enough or done enough to reverse the environmental degradation of the 20th century. I think Bill McKibben in his book Eaarth has a better handle on what we have yet to face.

Twenty years ago, with The End of Nature, Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about global warming. Those warnings went mostly unheeded; now, he insists, we need to acknowledge that we've waited too long, and that massive change is not only unavoidable but already under way. Our old familiar globe is suddenly melting, drying, acidifying, flooding, and burning in ways that no human has ever seen. We've created, in very short order, a new planet, still recognizable but fundamentally different. We may as well call it Eaarth.
That new planet is filled with new binds and traps. A changing world costs large sums to defend—think of the money that went to repair New Orleans, or the trillions it will take to transform our energy systems. But the endless economic growth that could underwrite such largesse depends on the stable planet we've managed to damage and degrade. We can't rely on old habits any longer.
Our hope depends, McKibben argues, on scaling back—on building the kind of societies and economies that can hunker down, concentrate on essentials, and create the type of community (in the neighborhood, but also on the Internet) that will allow us to weather trouble on an unprecedented scale. Change—fundamental change—is our best hope on a planet suddenly and violently out of balance.
Pay close attention to that last paragraph. Can you see our society willingly scaling back and hunkering down? I'm doing it by choice and have reduced my lifestyle for several decades. I have a long way to go, but no one else in my family is even willing to do this. We live in a narcissistic society where everyone's idea of success is to make more money and have more stuff. Because we deserve it, right? Reducing is mostly lip service. Americans really don't want to live small. It's easier to go to an Earth Day festival and feel good about it. How about refusing to buy anything wrapped in plastics? Inconvenient if not impossible. Live in a small house? Own only one car... or no car? Add "refuse" to the reduce/reuse/recycle paradigm? Doing without is what it will take if we want an Earth to celebrate.

What are you doing to reduce your environmental footprint? Is Earth Day every day for you, like it is at my house? 


Coffee Lady said...

Our family has downsized but I want to take it down even more. We lived in our RV for 4 years to pay off debt. It was a blast!

I do it mainly because, it is just who I am. I'm simple and I like to be resourceful. It's not like I believe I will save the Earth, I do it because it completes me. It just makes sense!

Maria Dunn said...

Important to look after the environment in the right ways. God bless, Maria from Delight Directed Living

Anonymous said...

A great post, I will remember the date for Earth Day,


Rebecka Vigus said...

Love Earth Day, had hoped to be planting at a new home. It didn't work out. So will go home in a week and do planting there.

Bob Sanchez said...

While we don't do anything special, we do recycle and drive a hybrid vehicle. Also we try not to waste lots of water here in the desert.

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