What do we do for Earth Day?

I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to approach the Earth Day theme this year. It has been my tradition to be a bit wry about these “special days” when we gather our attentions together and focus on a topic which should really be at the foundation of our reverence.

The decision to set aside this day to honor the Earth is particularly ironic this year, given the fact that the entire planet is suffering the throes of a dying fossil fuel industry – almost exactly eight years after the fatal explosion that set the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in motion. It is also ironic that instead of throttling back on hydrocarbon consumption, the folks with their hand on the tiller of our ship-of-state are hell-bent on releasing the reins on the fossil fuel industry.

I don’t anticipate any “wise words” coming out of the executive branch (or any of the regulatory agencies, for that matter) addressing Earth Day this year. I would in fact be surprised if any words are uttered at all. Given that this day, which if nothing else, celebrates the regulatory accomplishments we’ve made since the first Earth Day forty-eight years ago, I wish we were celebrating those at the helm.

But I am also not disposed to just shake my head and wag my finger at these disappointing actors. We have work to do. This could mean setting aside some time on this Earth Day (Sunday April 22) for a beach clean-up; getting out in Nature with friends and family; or writing a letter to your respective elected representatives expressing your thoughts about this day (and thanking or admonishing them for the work they do).

But this day could also be a turning point for your own life. A decision to decrease your dependence on fossil fuel, or a commitment to engage in a proactive conservation action could go far in decreasing our collective impacts on this generous planet.

The Earth is resilient; she has weathered more violent assaults before, and returned to life with even greater splendor. But unlike the meteor strikes or the rapid growth of cyanobacteria that have triggered global mass extinctions, we can have a hand in mediating our impacts on our planet. We have work to do, and there would be no better time to start than this Earth Day!


(Photoshop magic by Nick Fain)

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