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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
April 26, 1999


I am writing this on the morning of Earth Day 1999. As part of my morning ritual I read the North County Times, on this particular morning I could find only one mention of Earth Day, and that was in the comic section. Not good. My question is why is this paper so opposed to environmental awareness. The fact that the sports section has absolutely no problem spewing out mindless trivia on a daily basis, while this paper can't find the space to honor the environmental movement with an acknowledgement on the one day of the year designated for such, is very circumspect.

Now, it is not like I am blind to the reality of North San Diego County. As a rule we are a apathetic lot, more concerned with our tans and the latest fashion, then the continuing decline of the environmental health of the region. The headline for April 22, 1999 was "Bodies removed from scene," as if that were news. I only wish local media would spend as much time discussing over-population as they do pouring over the gory details of it's results.

As you can tell I have little patience for America's obsession with safety of it's children, while it continues to warehouse them in overcrowded schools. As I write this MSNBC rattles on in the background. Drawing links between the shootings in Littleton and rock music and the internet. It seems America is more comfortable discussing symptoms, rather than the cause, of a society so sick that it's children are turning on each other.

This brings to mind the lyrics of a Smashing Pumpkins song. "Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage." the scientific community knows if you put to many animals in the same cage, they will turn on each other. During my days as an animal rights activist I have seen chickens who were pecked to death by their cage mates to make room. Those of you who can not see the parallels are ignoring the reality facing us all.

Earth day should be a time of celebrating the progress we have made since the first celebration in 1970. Our air is clearer, our water is cleaner, and numerous species have been saved from extinction, yet we, the smart monkeys, can't seem to live peacefully among ourselves. So instead of spending the day highlighting successfully recycling programs, organic farming and habitat restoration, we are fussing over body counts in Kosovo and Colorado.

This morning the Moonlight Creek Park Association planted a Torrey Pine named Lady Bird in Encinitas. We named her Lady Bird in honor of Lady Bird Johnson. Known as America's "Environmental" First Lady, she championed the importance of conserving the environment years before America the Earth Day movement burst onto the scene. We planted a Torrey Pine because it's a native species, which is exactly what Earth Day is all about.

As we were planting Lady Bird, I took a moment to look at traffic rushing past on Interstate 5, it seemed odd. To imagine that the only place to preserve native habitat is next to a freeway, is not a happy thought. Sure it's cool to be hanging out with friends on a Thursday morning, but are six people planting one tree enough. I don't think so. What we need is for everybody to take a day off in April and do nothing but plant trees and celebrate the fact that we haven't completely destroyed the planet. Let's call it Earth Day.

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