Tag Archives: Earth Day

Lesson to ponder for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, a time we set aside to ponder the future of the planet and whether we humans are being careful stewards of this relatively tiny orbiting object.

Are we doing enough to protect it, and ourselves? I don’t think so but I pulled a resource book off the shelf to illustrate something I noticed some time back.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts is an invaluable font of information. I found this on page 734 of the 2013 edition:

The world is going to add 2.3 billion more people between now and 2050, according to data collected from a number of credible sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Programs Center. The world has roughly 7 billion inhabitants now; the number zooms to 9.3 billion in the next 36 years.

Let’s look at an individual country to see just how dramatic this explosion can get.

How about, say, Nigeria? The population of Nigeria, a country in central Africa, is estimated at 170 million people. By 2050, the population there will is expected to explode to 402 million.

Why single out Nigeria? Consider that the country comprises an area of 356,669 square miles, which is about the size of Texas and New Mexico combined. The United States population, which stands at 310 million people today, is expected to climb to 422 million by 2050. The U.S. comprises an area of roughly 3.7 million square miles, the third-largest land mass on the planet.

Nigeria’s population density will expand from 438 people per square mile to more than 1,000 by 2050. The U.S. density is expected to go from 88 to roughly 100 in that time.

Some countries will see population decreases in this period of time, according to the World Almanac. They are largely in the Far East and in Europe.

I mention Nigeria only to ponder out loud: How does a country with such relatively limited living space care for all those people? And what will this explosion of humanity do to the land that supports it?

I’m very afraid.

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.