Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

This April 22, Earth Day celebrates its 40th birthday. 
Back in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson was becoming distressed by the condition of the environment and wanted to bring focus to the notion that we need to be kinder to Mother Nature.
Nelson believed that a lot of Americans shared his concern and as it turns out, he was right.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22 1970 and twenty million people participated. That date is considered the birth of the environmental movement that is now embraced around the world.
The idea of Earth Day conjures up a wide range of opinions. Some people immediately think it's a buzz word for global warming and start dog-cussing Al Gore. They believe that global warming is a bunch of hooey, and had rather have an eighteen inch knitting needle jabbed in their eye than to hear another word on the subject.
Other people believe that we are indeed on a collision course and that we can't move quickly enough to head off impending natural calamities.
It's not my intention to debate global warming, but I suspect, based on the feedback that I received recently from my litter column, that there are a good many of you that feel we could do a better job taking care of Mother Nature.
One of the biggest arguments that I hear is that "environmental projects" are too expensive in terms of jobs.
Any time anyone starts discussing the impact of fossil fuels (coal and oil) on the environment, people start getting nervous.
Nowhere is that more true than here in central Alabama where the livelihoods of so many families and communities depend upon coal mining.
There are no easy answers here. I do believe that we need to invest in alternative sources of energy that are kinder to the planet.
Aside from the energy/global warming discussion, I think there are a lot of things that we can do locally in the area of recycling that will help.
Jilda and I get two newspapers every day and in a month's time, we have a mountain of newspapers. In the past, we stacked our papers in neat bundles and hauled them to a newspaper recycling bin in Graysville which is more than 20 miles away.
The church did away with the recycling bin so the last mountain of newsprint was thrown into a landfill. If someone knows of a newspaper recycling bin in Walker County, please let me know.
We recycle aluminum, and we pay the extra to have our old tires and car batteries recycled when we have them replaced.
One major concern that's lurking just beneath the radar is all the florescent lights being installed to replace household incandescent lighting. It's true these bulbs save a lot of energy, which is good for the environment, but they contain mercury which is linked to birth defects and all sorts of health problems. When these units burn out, they should NOT be thrown into a landfill.
No problem you might say, look on the carton and find out what GE says to do with the old bulbs. GE points you to a website that tells how to safely dispose of old florescent bulbs. The only problem is, when you click on Alabama, there is no plan.
That's unacceptable to me. I'm not sure what to do but I can't help but think those who manufacture and sell these bulbs share some responsibility for making sure we can dispose of these bulbs safely without leaving a mess for our children to clean up.
One person cannot do it alone, but I think we all can pitch in and make the world a better place.
These are just my thoughts on Earth Day. What do you think?

P.S. In honor of Earth Day, I started a new website
The site will be dedicated to helping my home become a better place to live.
If you have ideas, suggestions, or other "Green" information, please let me know ans I'll post it.

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