Happy Earth Day, everyone

It just occurs to me that with all the trouble in the world today, Planet Earth is going to have a big day.

Earth Day is upon us.

We’ve been obsessed with a lot of disheartening news of late: that missing jetliner that’s lying in the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the mudslide in Oso, Wash., the capsized ferry off the Korean coast, Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, the Syrian civil war … and a whole of other things that are too numerous to mention.

But now it’s the 44th celebration of Earth Day.

This is the day we’re supposed to call attention to taking better care of the tiny planet all 7 billion of us inhabit.

My wife and I spent a few days in the Davis Mountains region of Texas recently. We took a trip to McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, where we heard about the construction of a telescope that looks deeply into space. We heard narrations about billions of galaxies floating hundreds of billions of light years away. I tried for a moment to fathom the size of the universe; it cannot be done.

So I’m left to worry about our little, teeny-tiny speck of it that orbits around our relatively insignificant star we call “The Sun.”

Are we taking good enough care of this orbiting globe? Hardly.

We’re polluting our water, cutting down or burning forests, spewing toxic fumes into the air, filling our land with garbage we cannot — or will not — recycle. That’s just the beginning of it.

Earth Day came into being in April 1970, during the administration of that flaming environmentalist Richard Nixon, on whose watch the government created the Environmental Protection Agency. President Nixon had it right then to establish an agency charged with regulating industries’ standards and to hold them accountable for the mess many of them were — and still are — making of the environment.

The EPA since then has become the bogeyman of the far right, which doesn’t like government telling private industry how it should protect the land, air and water. I happen to like the EPA and hope it stays around for as long as human beings inhabit the planet — which I’m supposing will be long after I’m gone.

There’ll be rallies around the world. Well-meaning folks will remind us we can do a better job of protecting the planet. We’ll nod our heads in agreement; some of us will dismiss it as government overreach.

Then the day will pass and we’ll return to wondering about that jetliner and hoping war doesn’t break out in Ukraine.

Earth, though, has a special day set aside. Happy Earth Day, fellow travelers. Take care of this planet. It’s the only one we’ve got.