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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Saving Tomorrow

Today is Earth Day, and I would bet our precious Earth is crying.  Image result for clipart of crying earth
Humans are continuing to destroy the only home we have. Rain forests are disappearing, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting at a rapid rate, threatening the survival of polar bears. Poachers are killing elephants and rhinos at a rate far faster than they can reproduce, all so the Asians can have their ivory trinkets and 'magic potions' made of rhino horn (which is made of the same 'magic' substance as fingernails). Fracking is causing an unprecedented number of earthquakes in Oklahoma. The Gulf of Mexico and the animals that live there are still suffering from the massive, 200-million-gallon BP oil spill of five years ago. Air pollution in some major world cities is so bad it threatens the health of inhabitants. The war on apex predators (bears, bobcats, wolves, mountain lions) continues unabated. The use of pesticides and herbicides threatens human health. Monsanto continues to push its genetically modified food products and oppose all efforts to mandate labeling. The Republican-majority Congress continues its attacks on the environment, the Endangered Species Act and the Antiquities Act, among others. An Alaskan senator introduced legislation to open nearly 21 acres of pristine wilderness to oil and gas drilling, logging and other 'development.'

Fisheries are being overfished and various western states are engaging in land grabs as they try to take control of federal lands so they can sell them to the highest bidder for exploitation. Our oceans are polluted and home to massive islands of plastic debris, most of it dumped overboard from large ships.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there are 44,838 species on the IUCN Red List, and 16,938 of them are endangered species threatened with extinction. This is up from 16,118 last year. This includes both endangered animals and endangered plants.

On a local level, despite five years of drought in the high desert area where I live, city 'leaders' continue to approve permits to construct housing for some 90,000 new residents, with no apparent concern about where the water for these houses and residents will come from. Undeveloped lands continue to be 'developed', with still more restaurants, businesses and strip malls under construction, adding to the demand for water and to the already congested roads.

The city of Albuquerque just last year provided recycling bins to each household in the city. Why wasn't this done years ago? When I lived in California, recycling was a way of life. Every house had a recycling bin, and everything, including glass and Styrofoam, was accepted. Not here. Nationwide in 2012, Americans generated about 251 million tons of trash and recycled and composted almost 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.5 percent recycling rate according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This is pretty pathetic for such an 'advanced' and 'educated' nation. I routinely pick up fast food trash and discarded bottles and cans in my neighborhood, often in the same location. This leads me to believe the same people are tossing trash out their car windows on a regular basis.

I know we have made progress since the first Earth Day 45 years ago. Hybrid and electric vehicles are much more common than just a few years ago. Recycling is more accepted than it was.  The fight against coal and other environmentally dangerous fossil fuels is picking up steam.  Solar energy is becoming more affordable. But we still have a long, long way to go to protect our precious planet and try to reverse some of the damage we have caused. Our planet is very resilient, but the damage we humans inflict on our 'blue marble' is too much for Mother Nature. This is the only known habitable planet in the solar system. It behooves us to take better care of our home. We need to start doing a better job of saving tomorrow.

 The Blue Marble