Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Bloggers all over the world are posting environmental messages today as part of Blog Action Day. It's fundamental for the earth's stability and the long-term survival of humans as a species that we, as part of the world community, commit our hearts, minds, and actions to living as lightly as we can on Earth. When there were many fewer of us (humans), resource exploitation and extraction was sustainable. Now that there are 6 billion plus of us, and we all want stuff, electricity, water on demand, and bigger houses, we've got a big problem.

When I was a graduate student, I read Limits to Growth, a visionary book about how we'd run out of essential resources if the world population kept growing, and everyone kept consuming (like Americans). Unfortunately, their predications were delayed by technological innovation, and folks who don't understand the limits of the ecological capacities of our planet started to talk about how we'd be able to invent our way out of the negative impacts of population growth, energy consumption, etc.

Today we're at a critical point. I was teaching a course called People and the Environment in 1990, when PBS aired an excellent series about 'Race to Save the Planet.' We were hopeful then, but I'm less hopeful now (but I'm a bit gloomy by nature anyway). Each one of us in the developed world needs to reduce our consumption of stuff, from electricity to water to goods and services. We need to help folks in the developing world to raise their standard of living without making the same mistakes we made in the U.S.

A recent NY Times piece focused on an environmental crisis in a lake in China, where pollution had created a toxic blue-green algal bloom (I might be wrong about the algae since I read the story quickly). I was in the 5th grade when I reported to my class that a young boy had died from typhoid because he ate a watermelon floating in the Hudson River. Uh, hello?

We had Love Canal, Three Mile Island, and countless other wake-up calls about the impact of human-created pollutants on humans and the rest of the natural world.

My husband and I heard Al Gore years ago at a Georgia Conservancy meeting talking about how many signs did we did to have until the (environmental) message was clear. He was powerful in his message then, and thank goodness he's continued along that road. His book, Earth in the Balance, was one that more of us should have paid attention to.

I'm always trying, not always successfully, to reduce my impact and use of resources -- recycling everything that we use, choosing products that are recyclable or biodegradable, and produced from renewal sources, conserving energy, composting, etc, and gardening naturally and restoring habitat in our garden -- it's a positive step that provides me with hope that we can turn things around, starting with our homes, actions, yards, and communities.

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