Tag Archives: Earth Day

Earth is even more fragile

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Astronaut Bill Anders pointed his camera out the window of Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968 and captured this never before seen image.

The astronauts aboard the first manned lunar mission then read from the Book of Genesis and wished us good tidings on “the Good Earth.”

This picture is worth looking at once again as the world celebrates Earth Day. Anders, along with crewmates Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, all told us upon their return from deep space that our planet looked so “fragile” to their eyes as it rose from the lunar horizon.

In the more than 52 years since this iconic photo was created, Earth has become even more fragile. Humankind has damaged our “Good Earth” through a number of environmental vices: too much carbon emission and deforestation has destroyed natural habitat and caused the gradual year over year warming of our planet. The effect of that warming, of course, has damaged our polar ice caps and put more of our wildlife in peril.

Bill Anders captured a wondrous moment to share with his fellow human beings. Only these men and those who followed them to the moon can understand fully just how fragile our planet was then and has become.

Our “Good Earth” needs to be strengthened.

Hey, it’s Earth Day!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We celebrate this day every year. We say the right things. We actually try to do the right things.

And yet …

Our precious, precarious planet continues to be threatened by policies and behavior that places it in dire peril. What’s going on?

Earth Day is meant to bring the world’s attention to the only planet on which human beings can inhabit. Why don’t we celebrate this world of ours every single day?

I am not going to suggest that our household is doing anything extraordinary to protect our precious Earth, but we have embraced the notion of recycling with both arms. We hug the notion tightly. We now live in a community where recycling has become something akin to a way of life among the thousands of fellow residents of Princeton, Texas.

That is one small way we do our part to protect our planet.

To be clear, ours isn’t the only North Texas community that allows residents to recycle items. We are surrounded by small towns and mid-sized cities that also provide opportunities for residents to do their part, too. For that I am grateful.

Recycling material reduces the consumption of fossil fuels used to create this stuff from scratch by as much as 40 to 50 percent, as I have understood it over the years. It takes far less finite energy to re-use material than to manufacture it.

I am not going to say that every community’s embrace of recycling is going to save our planet by itself. I do offer the belief that human beings’ involvement in recycling that can contribute to the overall goal of preserving our planet’s resources and in keeping our environment clean enough for humans to continue living here.

Our government has returned to the community of nations’ effort to preserve our planet. President Biden’s executive order to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord is a good first step. Donald Trump pulled us out of that international agreement, calling it intrusive and an impediment to business. Hmm. Well, many of us disagreed with Trump’s call and are welcoming Joe Biden’s involvement in this critical effort.

We are going to honor our Good Earth today. Schools will dedicate class time to remind our children of the need to take care of the planet. Our public airwaves will have programming aimed at doing the same thing.

Those of us who are able also will do our part by filling up our recycling bins with items that can be re-used and re-purposed with the goal of conserving our nation’s precious resources.

Happy Earth Day! Let’s remain vigilant and attentive to our planet tomorrow, too … and for as long as we all inhabit this place.

Green New Deal is back!

 

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Just in time, a newer version of legislation that got stalled a couple of years ago in the U.S. Senate, has returned to the center stage of environmental policy discussion.

The Green New Deal — the bogeyman of the Republican Party — has been reintroduced by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York; indeed, AOC herself has become a favorite target of GOP critics.

Why is this so timely? Because we have Earth Day coming up Thursday. It’s the one day of the year — as if we should dedicate just a single day — we call attention to the fragility of the only planet we can inhabit.

I’ll save a discussion on the nuts and bolts of the Green New Deal for another day. I do want to make a point about the importance of what the GND intends to accomplish. It seeks to preserve our environment, to retain Earth as a place where human beings can inhabit.

President Biden has made climate change one of the linchpins of his tenure in office. He appointed former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State John Kerry as a special international envoy on climate change. The president signed an executive order upon taking office to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, from which Donald Trump had walked away when he took office.

Climate change presents an existential threat to our national security. Never mind the spring chill that has swept across the nation in recent days. The evidence continues to show that Earth’s median temperatures continue to increase year over year. Ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Third World nations continue to fell millions of acres of forest each year. The industrialized nations of the world continue to pour millions of tons of carbon-related pollutants into the air.

We must find some answers to these crises. Many of us say it when Earth Day rolls around every year: We only have one planet … and we have to protect it.

Is the Green New Deal too much? Too little? I don’t know. However, I believe we must not continue to do what we have been doing. We are contributing to the destruction of our Good Earth.

Happy Earth Day … if only we could cheer it this year

I have been fond of wishing everyone a Happy Earth Day, which I have done repeatedly on this blog.

This year it’s different. It’s vastly different, in fact. We acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Earth Day under a severe, foreboding and ominous cloud brought to our good Earth by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fifty years ago we began setting aside a day to celebrate the only planet we have. Earth is home. That’s it. We have to care for it. President Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, vowing to exert greater emphasis on ways to protect our precious Earth.

Here we are today. Our worldwide economy has effectively been shut down by the viral infection that has killed hundreds of thousands of human beings.

The “good news,” if you want to call it such, is that our air has gotten much cleaner as we have driven far less. We have nowhere to go. Our motor vehicles are parked.

OK, so the air is cleaner. We still have water pollution issues. We have deforestation that leads to global warming and climate change. We’re still throwing too much trash into landfills. We still are using too much fossil fuel that also spews pollution into the air.

Our minds and hearts, at the moment, are directed at fighting the pandemic. I am all for that effort, to be sure. I do not want to rush into a return to “normal living” while the virus is still infecting and killing human beings.

I do want to wish everyone once more a Happy Earth Day, although I understand completely that our attention is being diverted to more immediately urgent matters.

Happy Earth Day!

This is the third Earth Day we have noted since Donald Trump became president.

Yes, the two elements are related.

There used to be a time when presidents of both parties would salute efforts to save our planet from ourselves. Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and immediately began dismantling environmental regulations and removing this country from a key worldwide environmental initiative.

He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Then he knocked aside rules and regulations limiting carbon emissions; he has sought to open up public land to fossil fuel exploration; he has downplayed the exploration of alternative energy sources; Trump dismisses openly the effects of climate change.

Despite all of that, the sun rose this morning. It will set tonight. The cycle will continue.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the president continues to ignore the cause of climate change/global warming. He calls it a “hoax.” It is no such thing. It’s real. It needs to be dealt with seriously. We need presidential leadership to take command.

It was on the watch of President Nixon, a Republican, that the nation formed the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Republicans and Democrats for most of the time since then have embraced the EPA’s mission.

Is this the end of life as we know it? No. However, we need to pay attention to what’s happening out there. Earth’s temperatures are rising; the polar ice caps at both ends of the planet are shrinking; polar habitat is endangered; storms are becoming more frequent and more ferocious; human beings who live along our coasts are imperiled.

We have to care for this planet. It’s only one we have.

Happy Earth Day . . . even to you, Mr. President.

Celebrate Earth Day every day

Why do we choose just a single day to honor Planet Earth, to call attention to the need to provide tender loving care to the only planet upon which human beings can survive — and thrive?

But … that’s what we do. Today is Earth Day, dear reader.

It was founded on this day 48 years ago to protest the damage that massive industrialization had done to our cherished planet. So, the recognition continues.

But this Earth Day is a bit worrisome to many of us.

Why? Well, we have a government agency — the Environmental Protection Agency — that is run by someone who doesn’t seem to place as much value on the protection part of his agency’s mission as many millions of us would prefer.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt seems hell bent on wiping environmental protection regulations off the books. He has the support of the president who nominated him to this job. Frankly, Pruitt’s management so far of the EPA has been nothing short of shameful.

But I prefer instead to look beyond the bumbling bureaucrat who runs the EPA.

Each of us has a role to play in caring for the Good Earth. Therefore, I won’t waste time criticizing the government — beyond what I’ve just stated in this blog post.

Our planet’s climate is changing. Coastal lowland is at risk of being inundated. We keep cutting down millions of acres of trees to make room for more cement and steel, which depletes the atmosphere of oxygen that living creatures consume to survive. We’re burning more fossil fuels, putting even more pressure on our fragile atmosphere.

Yes, there are alternatives to pursue. How do we look for them as individuals or families? We can drive fuel-efficient motor vehicles. We can perhaps invest more in alternative forms of energy. It’s windy out there and last I heard, the wind is as clean and infinite an energy supply as I can imagine.

Then there’s water. If you thought oil and natural gas were the lifeblood of a community, try building a town or a city without water. Those who live on the High Plains of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico know the value of water. That aquifer that flows under us is receding. What are we going to do about it?

Protecting Mother Earth isn’t just a one-day-per-year event. It ought to be at the top of our minds every day.

Check this out from the Amarillo Globe-News: “Where I work we have a program called Stewardship 365, and it’s an oil and gas company” said Amarillo Environmental Task Force member Cole Camp as he conducted a recent tour of one of the City’s recycling venues at 27th and Hayes. “So we’re working to make sure people take that mindset of being cognizant of the environment home with them. It’s not just at work. It doesn’t have to be difficult. I find it really easy to do these things. It’s just as easy for me to put my cans in my recycling bin in my garage, as it is to throw it away in the trash can. It’s just a couple of more feet. So, with a little effort, we can make a lot of progress. By using the recycling facilities here in the City and keeping the waste from going to landfill, the landfill doesn’t expand nearly as fast and the City doesn’t have to pay for methane systems. By recycling we’re reducing waste and saving money.”

Excellent advice. Happy Earth Day … today and always!

Let us cherish the only Earth we have

Is it me or is Planet Earth going to get some major disrespect from the current president of the United States?

I ask because Earth Day is upon us. We commemorate our home planet with marches, speeches and occasionally fiery rhetoric from activists who proclaim the need to take care of our home.

Many of us take these exhortations seriously. Many others don’t.

I fear that one of those who don’t now resides in the White House. The 45th president of the United States, Donald John Trump, has said some pretty hideous things about some of the environmental crises facing this planet of ours.

The worst of those things has been to declare climate change to be  “hoax” promoted by our trading foes in the People’s Republic of China.

I have written about Earth Day previously in this blog. Here is this past year’s entry:

https://highplainsblogger.com/2016/04/happy-earth-day/

Trump has assembled a Cabinet that includes an Environmental Protection Agency director, Scott Pruitt, who shares the president’s denial of climate change. Pruitt has sued the federal government multiple times dating back to when he served as Oklahoma attorney general.

Indeed, the EPA’s very mission is spelled out explicitly in its title: to “protect” the environment.

What did the president do shortly after taking office? He signed an executive order that rolls back regulations that sought to clean the air. Trump contends that the rules and regulations are “job killers” and he vows to do all he can to restore jobs for heavy industry.

At what cost? To pour pollutants into the air, which well could create hazardous living conditions for millions of Americans?

I remain committed to the idea that climate change is real and that human beings are playing a major role in creating the havoc that’s occurring around the world.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. This is the only Earth we have. We must cherish it. Protect it. Love it.

This terrestrial affection must exist far beyond a single day.

Happy Earth Day

EarthDay

I’m ashamed of myself.

Today is Earth Day and I damn near forgot about it.

The shame comes because every day ought to be Earth Day. Think of it. Earth is the only planet we have that suitable for human life … that we know of at this moment.

And yet we do such a terrible job of caring for it.

We wipe out forests to make room for human inhabitants.

We spew toxic gases into the air.

We dump garbage into the ocean without thinking of what it does to the wildlife that inhabits it.

We pour chemicals into the ground, poisoning animals that share this planet with us.

We encroach on wildlife habitat and react badly when one or more of those animals strikes back without understanding the consequences of that action.

I could keep going. I’ll stop there.

It gives me hope to drive along our countryside to see wind turbines turning. They are producing energy that helps us conserve the fossil fuels that we’ve already depleted. I also draw hope from the sight of hybrid automobiles that burn much less fuel than their predecessors.

I’m not going to issue condemnations with this brief post.

Instead, I choose to lament that Earth Day doesn’t reap the kind of international attention that we bestow on so many other such events.

Every day ought to be Earth Day.

Maybe one day when all of us here today have left this world, there’ll be an escape for those who come along after us if they don’t do a better job of caring for this world than others have done so far.

For now and for the foreseeable future, though, Planet Earth is all we have.

Let’s take care of it.

 

Farmers, ranchers cherish Planet Earth

A quick follow-up to an earlier blog post about Earth Day is in order.

One of my sons shared my post and he got a fascinating reaction from someone, who said farmers and ranchers celebrate Earth Day every day of the year.

That is so true. Indeed, if we all cherished Planet Earth the way farmers and ranchers do — given that they earn their living from the earth — the world would be in much better shape than it is today.

Here, though, is a caveat that needs mentioning.

Farmers and ranchers comprise a tiny and still shrinking percentage of Earth’s population. The rest of on our planet happen to be urban dwellers. In fact, some years back the U.S. Census Bureau stopped counting farmers in a separate demographic category, relegating them and ranchers to “miscellaneous” status. I saw that as a virtual insult to the men and women who harvest food, produce cattle and other edible livestock — otherwise feed the rest of us.

Yes, they care about Earth more than the rest of us.

It is to their great credit that they do.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

So help me, I wish Earth Day was a bigger deal than it has become.

For a whole day — as if that’s enough time to honor the only planet we have — we’re supposed to put Earth on the top of our mind’s awareness.

http://www.earthday.org/

This is the 45th annual Earth Day. Many communities around the world are going to have public events to commemorate the day. That’s fine. I welcome all the attention that will be paid to Earth until the sun comes up tomorrow.

Given that it was created 45 years ago, that means Earth Day began during the Nixon administration. I doubt President Nixon really paid a lot of personal attention to the condition of the planet, but I certainly applaud that it was during his years in the White House that the Environmental Protection Agency was created.

In the decades since Earth Day’s creation, though, it has become something of a political flashpoint.

Some of us believe the planet is in peril. Our climate is changing and yet humankind keeps doing things to the planet that exacerbate the change that’s occurring. Deforestation is one thing. Spewing of carbon-based emissions is another. Some of say we need to do a better job of protecting our planet — or else face the consequences, which are as grim as it gets. Hey, we have nowhere else to live — for the time being, at least.

Others of us say there’s little we can do. Climate change? It’s part of Earth’s ecological cycle. We need to accept the inevitable and not seek to destroy our industrial base to chase after a cause that is far too big for mere human beings to tackle.

I won’t accept the hard-core climate change deniers’ thesis.

For the time being, I am at least grateful that the world sets aside a day to honor the good Planet Earth.

We ought to do it every day of every year.