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Earth Day: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 23, 1998


Well another Earth Day has come and gone, and don't we feel good about ourselves. Once again we have given lip service to the environment, allowed multinational corporations a healthy dose of greenwashing and things continue on as usual. We are happy little consumers on a road to nowhere.

Speaking of roads. Has anyone noticed the widening of La Costa Avenue between I-5 and El Camino Real. Didn't they just spend 25 million dollars to enhance the Lagoon. Was there any public discourse on the issue? Where was the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation? I invite everyone to go and look, better yet take pictures of what remains of the open space known as Green Valley, with the expansion of La Costa Avenue, it's days are numbered. Leucadia Blvd. is also growing. Is it just me, or does it seem that all these road expansions seem to coincide with new shopping centers.  They're also about to start work on a widening project at the infamous 5/805 merge. It's seems our infrastructure can't keep up with our driving need to be constantly in motion.

The mantra for the 20th century is "More is better." More jobs, more time, more money, and more people, just more. Here in coastal North County the goal always outweighs the cost of getting there, and progress is only measured in linear terms. To improve business in any given city, development brings in new business while existing business struggles to remain afloat. Why the collective Chamber of Commerce isn't looking out for their members best interest is beyond me. What isn't beyond me is the understanding that the special interests that control policy do not include clean air and water, natural open space, and comprehensive mass transit.

On my machine at home I end the message with the question "What are you doing to save the plant" The response is usually "I recycle," "I'm spreading love and joy," or "I can't save the planet." And I am always impressed with the honest "nothing." Recycling is a good start, spreading love and joy is about as effective as spreading manure, and the defeatist attitude of the latter is what has brought us to the brink. I know what I do for the planet. I eat, drink, and sleep environmental communication to the point of obnoxiousness. I live on a perpetual soapbox. I know I'm not perfect, who could be when raised in a capitalistic consumer oriented society.

I bet most of you are wondering why I'm venting like this, well to be honest I'm tired of fighting the good fight. Those of us in the environmental community who are working year-round to protect and preserve biodiversity and ecological viability need help. Now I'm not saying you need to throw yourself in front of a bulldozer as it rips into riparian habitat, although that would be an effective way to draw media attention. I not asking you to become vegan, although that would benefit both you and the the animals you wouldn't be eating or wearing. And I'm not asking you to join your cats and dogs in line to be spayed and neutered, although, ironically, future generations will thank you for it.

What I am asking is for people to start doing the little things that make a difference. Like writing your congressional representative and attending city council meetings to demand clear and concise environmental policy. Another way to help the plant is to cut you consumption in half. Next time ask yourself "do I really need to drink a 36 ounce Pepsi Big Gulp." Ask yourself if the lawn you are watering is worth more that than San Francisco Bay Delta watershed and the species that live there. Sorry gang, but Americans consume way to much. If you doubt this just go look in your garage, and then try to tell me this isn't so.

To be honest with you, right now I am struggling with the consideration of what it means to be an environmentalist. Development interests tell us we have to compromise, when all we have done is compromise. The motto for the radical environmental group EarthFirst! is "No compromise in defense of Mother Earth." Yet, anything short of a full scale attack on those interests profiting from environmental destruction is in fact a compromise.

So does this mean I am going to give up the fight? Absolutely not. Am I going to stop calling it as I see it? Not on your life. What I am going to do is keep asking people to stand beside me in this war against shortsighted greed and long term indifference. By doing so you will have the honor to say "everything possible" when asked what are you doing to save the planet.

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