It's 40 years since the first Earth day-- 40 years since Cleveland's polluted Cuyahoga River caught fire, waking us up to devastation we were wreaking on our planet. Things have actually improved some since then. The skyline is more visible in some cities, and not everything that comes into our houses ends up in our landfill. But it isn't rosy. We are in danger of reaching the earth's carrying capacity. We continue to overload our atmosphere with carbon (and if you don't buy global warming, please, please check out the research).
I went to a lecture last week by National Geographic executive editor for the environment's Dennis Dimick. He showed horrifying pictures of the very real effects of human impact on our fragile home, and implored the audience to take action to stop the carnage. It's easy to get so overwhelmed by the immensity of the issue that we are paralyzed. Luckily, I saw Nobel laureate Jodi Williams give a talk a couple of days later at OSU's Peace Jam. Entitled "When Ordinary People Achieve Extraordinary Things", it was medicine to many weary hearts. Ms. Williams was a principle force in the international campaign to ban landmines. A down-to-earth, cowboy boot wearing gal, Jodi encouraged listeners to stop whining and DO SOMETHING. She is a living example of how an everyday person can enact profound changes within a lifetime. No time, you say? She brooks no excuses. Cut out an hour of, say,Seinfield reruns or Starbucks stops to churn up a little action about something that really worries you. She's no partisan-- she doesn't care if it's landmines, education, poverty, civil rights. She wants you, as Gandhi said, to BE the change you want to see in the world. And she noted that if every citizen in Oregon devoted one hour a month to volunteer activism, well, that's 3 million hours a month!
What do you worry about? What are you going to do about it?
Need a little inspiration? If you're from these parts, visit this link of the Northwest Earth Institute and take a class that will shake up your life and maybe change your world.
Here's a few more useful links:
Earth Day home page : Sign the Earth Day 2010 Climate Declaration. Find ways to get involved.
Corvallis Environmental Center: Take a hike. Find out about local environmental initiatives. Get to know your ecosystem and more.
Population information and impact here.
Science Daily's environmental new digest
Small things can make a difference: Treehugger.com talks about some here
and there are 50 more here.
To keep your heart lightened, visit or subscribe to ODE magazine, for "intelligent optimists".
Today's quote: "To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, that is to have succeeded." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today's song: Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell