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Earth Day 2001

It is Earth Day, a holiday that commemorates past efforts to keep our planet sustainable and reaffirms our commitment towards this goal.  There are many events going on about town to celebrate this day, which probably has been made more poignant this year by the recent anti-environmental measures by George W. Bush.  My concern this Earth Day is that it seems increasingly evident that the average citizen is buried in confusion on what environmentalism is—leaving us unable to reach a  consensus.

Our news media seem to think that environmentalism is an issue where some are for it and some are not.  Our president says that we must use “sound science” to get a balance between our economic and environmental concerns.  Environmentalists say we are in trouble, while our politicians seem to go on encouraging development with abandonment. It is easy to get confused when you begin arguing with anyone who is at least a little familiar with the subject and has some “facts” (right or wrong) handy.

I tend to pull away and try and see the big picture.  When I hear the president call for fewer controls on air pollution because we have an ‘energy crisis;’ and our local politicians encourage new developments, instead of trying to use existing properties where industries have left their pollution behind, I ask myself some simple questions: How long can we continue to expand and pollute without reaping the consequences?  What would it take for us to connect the dots between our behavior and disease outbreaks, climate change, and polluted air and water? 

    I think the answer lies in everyone learning about these important environmental concerns, keeping themselves informed, and asking themselves the hard questions.  Our politicians, our employers, developers, polluters, friends, neighbors, and the media, may be able to convince us that we can continue on as we have, heedless of the balance of nature.  But nature is immune from our environmental quandaries as it is only a mindless algorithm of cause and effect.  Discharge pollutants into the water and air and bad things happen.