Before 1970, nothing stopped polluters from dumping who-knows-what-all into the air we breathe and the waters we share. No regulations, no guidelines, no EPA.
On a poster for the first Earth Day, cartoonist Walt Kelly famously observed, “We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us.”
We’ve changed some of our wasteful ways since the 1970s, when the Cayahuga River caught fire and smog and Los Angeles were synonymous.
Reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle is a new mantra. Despoiling natural resources no longer draws yawns and corporations spend billions attempting to paint themselves green. Laws and regulations help protect us and other living creatures. Myriad citizens volunteer, conservation groups and environmental organizations actively care for our home planet.
Which makes Earth Day worth celebrating.
Recognizing the power of millions of individual actions, the focus of Earth Day 2011 is “A Billion Acts of Green,” hoping to register a billion actions by the 2012 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
More than 45 million groups and individuals already have pledged all kinds of actions that show their determination to live and act sustainably.
Ready to join the party?
Get out and enjoy the Earth we’re celebrating with friends, neighbors and colleagues as part of the Klallam Earth Day Challenge, April 22-23. Teams are claiming sections of the beaches, streams and rivers in good-natured competition to clean up the most trash, with or without costumes.
Among those already signed up at www.klallamearth day.com:
The Port Angeles Association of Realtors will clean up Ediz Hook “as part of our giving back to the community, while celebrating the Earth we all treasure,” said Harriet Reyenga. An eco-broker with Windermere Realty, she’s actively seeking choreographic assistance to create a winning dance for her fun-loving team.
“We should have no problem cleaning up around the west end of Freshwater Bay,” said John Albiso, with the North Olympic Chapter of the Coastline Conservation Association. Not so with clearing out derelict fishing gear, an ongoing concern. Thousands of fishing nets and crab pots litter the floor of the Salish Sea, ensnaring tens of thousands of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and around half a million crabs each year; more gear is continually lost and abandoned. No agency currently is responsible for removing derelict gear. Without requirements to identify gear, or report its loss, there’s no accountability.
Reporting is voluntary. Last year’s reports? “Only two,” Albiso said. Yet removing these silent killers can go a long way toward restoring the ecology of our waterways.
Visit www.earthday.org and see how you can make a difference; an online registration tool quantifies green actions. Simple individual acts and larger organizational efforts can measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainability.
With more than 45 million actions already, Earth Day: A Billion Acts of Green® already is the largest environmental service campaign in the world.
You can find creative ways to celebrate Earth Day at “The Art of Sustainability: Considerate Creativity, Taking Personal Responsibility for the Future.” The Museum & Arts Center offers local artists’ works inspired by their personal ideas or visions of environmental, economic and social sustainability Tuesdays through Saturdays, March 29-April 30 at MAC, 175 W. Cedar St. in Sequim.
The triple tragedies in Japan are powerful reminders that local events can have global impact.
Radiation from Japan already has reached the West Coast and eventually will make its way around the Earth, raising concerns about contaminating food and water, ocean fish stocks and other living things.
Natural forces like the Gulf Stream and trade winds, as well as global trade and travel, make it impossible to contain — or even track — trace elements like Cesium-137.
What’s true of traces of radioactive isotopes also is true of greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants in the air and water: We can’t control where they go.
We all share the same continuously moving atmosphere, the same vast oceans that embrace Mother Earth, the same small store of fresh water, forests, deserts and diverse ecosystems.
My hope is that on Earth Day, we can show love and care for our fragile spaceship — and continue every day for the next seven generations.
Reach her at www.DianaSomerville.com or e-mail to: columnist@sequim gazette.com.
Modern Maya welcome end of the world we know
Wed, Dec 12, 2012
Mycelium rock! Peering into the underground world of mushrooms
Wed, Jun 20, 2012
Living on invisible boundaries
Tue, May 8, 2012
Bee-wildering rites of spring
Wed, Apr 11, 2012
Who’s messing with what? And why?
Wed, Mar 28, 2012
Giving can transform you and your community
Wed, Mar 14, 2012
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging
Tue, Feb 28, 2012
That’s billion – with a B
Wed, Feb 15, 2012
A plastic world with plastic oceans
Wed, Feb 1, 2012
Coping when values and costs collide
Tue, Dec 6, 2011
Are we broke? Or broken?
Wed, Nov 23, 2011
Moving from yes or no to multiple choice
Thu, Nov 10, 2011
Who can we bank on?
Thu, Oct 27, 2011
Coming to terms with money, greed and power
Wed, Oct 12, 2011
Lies, damned lies and price tags
Wed, Sep 14, 2011
We all pay for our failing justice system
Wed, Aug 31, 2011
From techno-trauma to a glimpse of Nirvana
Fri, Aug 19, 2011
What’s going down the drain?
Thu, Aug 4, 2011
Life’s biggest lesson
Thu, May 26, 2011
So long, lawns — Mother Earth will not miss you
Wed, Apr 27, 2011