Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Earth Day 2010!

“We must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization.” – Al Gore.

In honor of
Earth Day, I’m hoping to take a break from boring you all with my extremely exciting life (I know, reading about every season I’ve played kickball is truly enthralling) and focus on some environmental issues. There are tons of exciting Earth Day activities going on in DC today and this coming weekend. One of the largest displays will be the Climate Rally held on Sunday, April 25th. I’m hoping to get out and check it out for a bit (you should too), so look for a recap on Monday!

So what exactly is Earth Day?
Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held April 22, 1970.

How can you help?
Just as there are numerous ways we destroy the planet, so are there a plethora of ways we can help. These are a few simple things we can do as suggested by the Earth Day campaign:
  • Educate people to use solar power
  • Recycle
  • Shop at the local farmers market, using your own bags and eat as many locally sources meals as possible
  • Ride a bike
  • Reduce your electricity usage
From now on, each week, I will try and focus on one thing we can all do to help make a positive impact on the environment and life more sustainable lifestyles. Maybe it can be our weekly goal. So, since the weather is getting nicer, I propose we try and not use our cars (including cabs) for a week. If you live in a public transportation rich city like DC (despite the sometimes malfunctioning metro system) this shouldn't be that hard. While it's not always possible, it's something to strive for. I hope to post these each Sunday or Monday as a challenge for the week, so I'll update you on my progress.

Why should I care?
When Earth day began, pollution was rampant and it was visible. We could see the smog and the gross rivers. And while we've made lots of improvements along the way, there are still major problems that are going undetected and unnoticed because, while not as visible, are equally as damaging.

Right now I’m reading Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle by David Wann. I’ll share some of the interesting and sometimes shocking highlights. Wann explains that not only is it essential that we change the way we live in order to survive on limited natural resources that are naturally depleting, we will come to find that this lifestyle is even richer and more fulfilling than our crazy, fast-paced , yet wasteful current lifestyle.
“Real wealth is the calmness and contentedness that comes with feeling good, physically; the sense of well being that makes anything seem like an event. Real wealth is finding the rhythm of natural cycles and jumping in. It’s understanding how the world works and substituting information and brilliant design for resources."

Now, for some alarming facts:
We are already experiencing environmental catastrophe. We can fix this, but we have to accept that there are major problems. “For example, some eastern cities ran out of landfill space years ago and are now begging neighboring states to take their waste. (New York City alone ships 600 tractor-trailers out of state every single day.) “ I mean EW, that is just gross. Not to mention holy shit, I can’t imagine that much trash, what are we doing!?

“The average American’s ‘ecological footprint’ (the land needed to provide the materials supporting his or her lifestyle) is 30 acres, or roughly thirty football fields of prime land and sea, year after year—which is roughly twice what the average Italian or German thrives on.” If others can do with less, obviously we can do. And also, since land and seas are finite. We are basically using up in a few generations the resources that have taken eons to produce. Wanns likens this to temporarily going insane and gambling your life savings in a single casino spree. And that is exactly what we are currently doing.

Just some thoughts to ponder on this Earth Day. Now get out there and plant a tree! Or take a ride on the Orange Line (note to self: must leave kickball early enough to catch mass transit this week). This will both save the environment and my death-warmed-over-due-to-lack-of-sleep appearance tomorrow at work as well. Win, win!

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