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Posts Tagged ‘Earth Day’

Earth Day…

Today, April 22,  is Earth Day. It’s an annual event to show support for strong environmental protections and actions to help keep this planet a clean and healthy place in which to live. It was first observed on this date back in 1970 and as it nears 50 years of age, it has never been more needed.

We are in the midst of a deep and vast cleansing but it is not taking place in the environment. No, it is happening in the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, where decades of of regulations enacting environmental protections are being flushed down the toilet, all for the benefit of large industries and energy companies.

I am old enough to remember the pollution of the 60’s and 70’s. The thick smog that hovered like a brown blanket above and on the cities. The many rivers so polluted that they were awash with dead fish and the others that were simply on fire. The acid rain that formed from the factories of the midwest and blew east, devastating the Adirondack forests and lakes. Love Canal and so many other Superfund cleanups– paid for by tax-payer dollars– of contaminated sites left by negligent industries. Masses of inefficient cars belching gray smoke and so many other things that contributed to a world that seemed to be built on trash and pollution.

Environmental protections have made huge strides in the past 48 years. If you ever drove through Cleveland in the 60’s and you see it now, you understand what I am saying. These regulations have made great strides toward cleaner skies and waters– outside of the giant Texas-sized islands of plastics that sludge along in our oceans and seas. But this administration has sold the country a bill of goods that says, simply put, that all regulation is bad and unnecessary.

And the gullible among us buy it, as though requiring businesses to operate in a safe and responsible manner somehow impinges on their own personal freedoms, even though there is huge truckload of evidence to the contrary.

There may be some regulations here and there that are not needed or are outdated. But for the most part, each of these arose from a need to stem specific practices that were detrimental to the public good. Are any of us worse off for having cleaner air to breathe, purer water to drink, better cars that get higher gas mileage and spew less smoke, or healthier forests and parks to in which to walk? What citizen benefits by allowing coal sludge to be dumped into waterways?

And as for the argument that these regulations cost businesses more? So what? It is the social responsibility of businesses to operate within our laws and regulations, especially when it concerns the health and welfare of our citizens. It is always passed on to us, the consumer, on a cost-plus basis that actually benefits the businesses. But this added cost passed on to us to avoid pollution and contamination is minimal compared to the bill that that comes due to us when we, the taxpayers, have to clean up things afterwards.

Not only do we have to live with an environment with dirtier air and water, we have to pay for the irresponsible screw-ups that gave it to us.

Okay, I am going to stop now even though I could rant for quite a bit more, especially about the cost analysis of renewable energy versus fossil fuels. I will end by saying that the EPA is doing damage to our regulatory framework and the environment it was designed to protect that may take decades to reverse.

This damage can only be halted by the actions of citizens. Get active. Speak up. For god’s sake, vote for clean air and water and renewable energy. If you can’t vote fot that, then we are in for grimy future.

Here’s this week’s Sunday morning music. It is, of course, the classic plea for the environment from Marvin Gaye, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).

Have a good Earth Day.

 

 

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I thought that since today is Earth Day I would show this newer painting, an 18″ by 24″ canvas, that I am calling Sanctus Terrae, which translates as sacred land.

Sacred Land.

We like to claim that we hold a certain reverence for the world in which we live and see it as the living organism that supports us. But it seems as we have short memories and forget that all too often we have treated the earth with disdain, carelessly and selfishly using its resources with complete disregard for the consequences.

Think about the industrial pollution that plagued this country in the 60’s and 70’s.  Remember the thick brown clouds of smog that hovered over our cities. Don’t forget our indiscriminate use of pesticides such as DDT or the widespread water pollution that poisoned the ecosystems of so many of our rivers, killing all sorts of fish and wildlife. Or Love Canal. Or the acid rain that swept in from industries of the midwest to adversely affect my beloved Adirondack Mountains, killing great swathes of trees and making the lakes there practically uninhabitable for the native species of fishes. It still affects the area and it is estimated that by 2040 there will be no fish in any Adirondack lakes.

But we have made some great strides.  Cleaner energy reproduction is on the rise, lowering the cost of energy and creating a huge number of jobs. Most American cities today look radically different than they did in the middle of the 20th century,  Take Cleveland for example. My earliest memories of Cleveland came from a family trip that took us through that city in 1967 or 68. I remember the horror I felt at the yellow/brown skies that lingered over Lake Erie and the acrid sulphur stench of the air.

This was before the vastly polluted Cuyahoga River famously caught fire there in 1969. Actually, 1969 was just the worst of the fires on that river–it had been on fire a number of times over the years.

To me at that time, it felt like a hell on earth. That image of the city still jumps to mind. But go there today and that city shows little evidence of that past. It skies are clear, the lake and rivers run clear, and the sulphur smell has departed. It feels relatively clean and green and is a pleasant place in which to live or visit.

But we are at a point with this administration where they view the regulations that brought about these positive changes as some sort of restraint on the rights of large corporations, that their right to make profits supersedes their responsibility to the land or its inhabitants. They seem hellbent on reversing every forward stride made toward cleaning up our environment, forgetting that most regulations that are in place came about to address a real problem or concern.

Just because the problem has been alleviated (most likely as a result of the regulation) doesn’t mean that we should revert to the old way of doing something.

So on this Earth Day, we have to stand up for this, our sacred land. If you’re old enough take a moment and remember what the past really looked like.  If you’re younger, do some research and check out the ecological past of your area. Then take action. Act responsibly with your own interactions with this land. Vote.

Just don’t think that you can ignore it by sticking your head in the sand– you don’t know what might end up being down there.

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