What Does Earth Day 2010 Mean to Me? My Opinion May Surprise You

I could tell you about the importance of recycling, keeping wildlife protected and so on, but you already know about these things.  We all should be responsible stewards of this planet and protect it and its inhabitants as best we can.  However, I want to go a little deeper into what Earth Day means to me.

On April 22nd 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin saw his dream come true and Earth Day was born.   Various organizations around the country wanted to bring awareness to the people about the damage us humans had on the environment.  Many say that this marked the beginning of the environmental movement.

Now, 40 years later we are more aware of the products we buy, the cars we drive and the effects we have on wildlife and the environment.  All around us companies are making eco friendly alternatives and car manufacturers mileage standards are way up.  I’d say we’ve made good strides in most areas.

My background story

Some of you may know that I’m a pet sitter and have loved animals all my life and wouldn’t think of hurting one.  (except for spiders and ants, but I feel guilty about it!).  When I launched my online pet products store, I naturally gravitated towards eco friendly and holistic pet products.

My father was an immigrant from a very poor town in Southern Italy and taught me and my brothers the value of a dollar and not to waste it.  When something broke, he fixed it.  I can remember him recycling when I was just a kid which was way before it was a popular thing to do.  It was ingrained in me from a very early age to respect the things we have and not to be wasteful.  As an adult, I have kept that tradition going.

Having said all that..

For the first time in human history, humans now have the ability to change the ecology of our planet.  The pollutants and waste that we produce is having an effect on the environment as it has never had before.  Therefore, we as an intelligent species have a responsibility to overcome and fix our shortcomings.

That is all well and good and I’m totally on board with that, BUT we must not forget that humans are part of this Earth.  We didn’t come here from another place outside the universe, we are a part of it and as a part of the whole, we should be protected too.

When government uses environmental policies to make a political point and disregard the fact that humans can also be harmed by these policies is abhorrent to me.

Did you know that after 25 years after banning DDT, there were 50 million preventable deaths?  In 2006 the World Health Organization reversed its ban and endorsed the use of DDT to combat Malaria.  However a U.N. agency reverted back to endorsing less effective ways, such as chloroquine to win the war on Malaria.   As a result, millions more poor people will die.  The DDT kept the mosquito population as bay, but when that was gone, the people had no defense.  I’m not saying DDT is good or bad, I’m just pointing out that politics should not win out over human suffering.

Malaria

Here in California in the San Joaquin Valley, the bread basket of America, 30-40,000 farmers have been put out of work and tens of thousands of acres are bone dry because they turned off the water supply to save a 2 inch Delta Smelt Fish.  This in turn, raises the price of food and we will have to get it from other countries.  If we are trying to buy local, why would they shut off the water of our local farmers and force us to go outside the area?  It’s just counter intuitive to me.

These are just two examples over many years that policy has won over human heartache and suffering.

So, what does Earth Day mean to me?

It means that we as thinking, feeling beings have the responsibility to look after our oceans, forests and wildlife.  However, we are one with the Earth and have a moral duty to protect our fellow man.

I would prefer decisions were not made for a political point and made with what is the best solution for all involved.  Sometimes we have to think outside the box and not shut down lumber companies to save the Spotted Owl, for instance.  Isn’t there another way, so no species has to suffer?   And, if a solution can’t be found, who do we chose to save Human or Smelt?

Lola R. Steele
 

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