Some thoughts on our planet as Earth Day celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 22:

Mother Earth is well worn and very tired. Maybe exhausted and in need of a long rest. She’s been at this game since the beginning of time. 

Our dear natural mother has never experienced anything like the massive floods, fires and famines of the last few decades.

She has been well-tested in the fire of survival. But it has been the constant misuse of her precious air and water that has caused the most harm. 

The industrial age wore her down, for sure, but viruses and pandemics, however sick and deadly they were, have greatly added to her fatigue. For right now, the coronavirus is giving an overworked Mother Earth a long-overdue pause. 

The rush of life has slowed to a crawl. Air and water pollution has dropped significantly, with industrial plants closed. And gasoline demand has collapsed close to zero, with people sheltering in dwellings as their autos sit silently parked. 

The virus is allowing Mother Earth to catch her breath. I’m certain she is enjoying this downtime after centuries of fast-paced abuse.

So we ask, what can actually come next and be even worse for our dear Mother Earth? Before we try to answer the question, let’s glance back over the past decades.

Two modern-age materials — plastic and cardboard — have overloaded the ubiquitous landfills carved into Mother Earth. Most recycling places have sealed their containers shut for those items. 

Discarded plastic floating on the surface of her oceans is more plentiful than the fish below. 

With all we see that’s going on, perhaps every day should be Earth Day. Especially since most industrial polluters seem to have Earth Day confused with April Fool’s Day, which rolls around each April 1.

If we aren’t fools, then we do not show it from the way we act. We carry on as if there is no tomorrow, no day of reckoning coming our way. We continue to toss our trash and fill up our tanks with gasoline.

I’m not going to overwhelm you with the grim statistics of disposal. All I’m saying is we have to believe the science that tells us our earth is sick.

When auto emissions are so thick people must wear air masks when they leave their homes, when our water is so polluted with toxins we can’t drink it …well, that should cause us to stop and think. 

We don’t have to be scientists to fully understand that the carbon emissions from the fossil fuels of petroleum and coal present great risks for Mother Earth’s air and for our own health.

Carbon emissions from autos and coal-burning plants may be down for the moment, but our air is still far from clean and healthy.

The quantity of garbage dumped by all of us continues to increase rapidly, because everything now comes in a container or wrapped package that must be discarded.

Which leads to my point: Every day should be Earth Day, instead of a one-day-a-year observance. 

Some people may have overlooked Earth Day because of National Beer Day, which is celebrated on April 7. Because we are a beer-drinking bunch, the waste of the intoxicating liquid includes the carrying containers and the glass bottles and aluminum cans.

If we give a toast to Mother Earth on her special day, we also give her the container from which the toast is derived.

So mine is a simple request. Just as there is only one of you and only one of me, there is only one of Mother Earth. The best way we can show Mother Earth we love her is to consume less and toss away less. Being respectful is also being responsible.

No time now for magic formulas, razzle-dazzle, or boring statistics. We have work to do.

If the U.S. is to remain a world leader, we owe it to our neighbors to show them the right way. That way is to love and protect our sacred Mother Earth. Time for all of us to fall in line.

 

Ralph Morris is a retired newspaperman who lives near Auburn. His email is r.morris@ctvea.net.

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