Earth Day: No Shortage of Terrifying Topics

Today the environment is on everyone’s mind and ominous reminders why just keep coming. Earth Day only brings it all above-the-fold for the day, so I’ll briefly touch on three everyday topics that deserve our everyday attention. There is no shortage of things we could talk about.

Until the late 20th Century, few of us thought much about the environment. There weren’t many headlines about the health – or lack of it – of the planet. Oh, how things change – and in a hurry! Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire after years of chemical waste dumped into it; in 1969, Southern California’s pristine coast suffered a catastrophic oil spill of three trillion gallons killing thousands of birds, fish and sea mammals; and Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the deadly truth of pesticides was addressed as never before.

The environment and our future became topics no longer reserved for academics, it was everyone’s business. In response to it, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey of California organized the first annual Earth Day in April 1970. Now, almost 50 years now, April 22nd is official Earth Day, marking the anniversary of the modern environmental movement.

Earth Day goes beyond politics despite vastly different red and blue narratives. Regardless where you fall on the political spectrum, everyone should be concerned about how our activities impact the land, sea, and air. The price paid isn’t like the national debt left to our children and grandchildren. We’re paying the environmental price today and it should send chills down everyone’s red or blue spine.

Here are three examples of how serious things have become. If the trend continues as expected, consider how bad things could get, how concerned we should be, and why Earth Day 2018 should be the year we all draw the line in the polluted sand.

Weather – It Really is Different

Climate change isn’t about the weather in a vacuum. Weather isn’t an argument for or against climate change, the issue is violent weather and extremes we’ve never witnessed before. It’s not imagination but fact and getting worse.

In the past year in the United States, we’ve seen it in three areas:

First, it’s a fact that every Hurricane Season is more severe and the storms more catastrophic. What happened last fall in Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida from Harvey and Maria, leave no doubt. Eight months later, power still hasn’t been completely restored in Puerto Rico. People are justifiably nervous about the next Hurricane Season.

Drought has been so severe and lasted so long that fears of tinderboxes burning out of control have become the horrific truth. Fires in the Western U.S., in California, Oregon, and Washington, were the worst ever seen. Concerns about this year’s season are real, and drought in the Midwest and Southwest make those residents fearful and for good reason. And the aftermath may be as bad or even worse; heavy rains devastated Santa Barbara with mudslides after fires burned hundreds of thousands of acres.

This past winter’s blizzard bonanza set records across the country. Big storms, deep snows, more storms, and they just keep coming. It’s now mid-April and Major League Baseball has seen snow-covered baseball diamonds and dozens of snowed-out games.

Plastics and the Oceans

How bad is it? Estimates are that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Currently, we are dumping the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute. 8 million tons of plastic every year.

The damage goes far beyond ruining beaches and harming marine life; plastic is becoming a permanent part of food chains and ecosystems breaking down into dangerous micro-plastics and tiny particles that absorb chemicals. These micro-plastics have made their way into ecosystems as remote as the Arctic Sea.

This Earth Day will educate millions about the health and environmental risks that come with plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing evidence that decomposing plastics creating serious global problems threatening our survival. We can take a stand by choosing to reject, reduce, reuse and recycle plastics and promote government regulation to tackle the problem. Here’s a link to learn more:

Fracking is More a Problem Than a Solution

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a drilling technique used for extracting oil and natural gas from deep underground. Shale oil and natural gas production is big business. The question is whether it’s good business, sustainable business, or socially responsible business.

For years, its advocates have assured us it’s a safe and economical way to extract clean energy. In recent years, we’ve seen the truth: drinking water contaminated with chemicals, fires that vent directly into the atmosphere, increased air pollution, and wholesale erosion and destabilization of the earth triggering earthquakes.

Proponents point to fracking’s benefits. It has created jobs that have rescued dying towns and regions, and, at least temporarily, reduced dependence upon foreign oil and lowered prices at the pump and for heating oil. These are short-term fixes and short-sighted thinking because the long-term damages are forever. Even worse, fracking delays development of sustainable and more responsible solutions.

“Oil is a rental business…When the industry goes south — and it will go south — they just walk away.” ~Dan Kalil, Chairman of the Williams County Board of Commissions in North Dakota, where shale oil and gas production has been an economic boon.

Walking away is the point, after all. We can’t just walk away to Mars.

Confronting our environmental future by facing the truth is what Earth Day has been about for nearly half a century.

I invite you to commit to Earth Day this year as never before:

  1. Contact Congress and demand that the EPA be put back to work protecting the environment.
  2. Donate to the environmental cause of your choice.
  3. Find ways to volunteer.

It matters more than ever before.

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