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One day Earth Day every day

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 8, 2008


I'm a big fan of Earth Day. First recognized on April 22, 1970 with an environmental teach-in and call to action. Rallying against ecological deterioration, 20 million Americans gathered in support of clean air and water, wildlife conservation and clean energy. Making history and changing the way Americans play politics with pollution and plunder, the first Earth Day was a screaming success.

Well here we are 38 years later and the only things that have changed are the climate, the amount and severity of human generated environmental degradation, the extinction of numerous species, melting glaciers, increase of human population and the number of people participating in Earth Day events world-wide. The Earth Day Network estimates a billion people somewhere in some way will do something to recognize Earth Day 2008.

People gathering once a year for a day of fun and education is a good thing, it's just not enough. Earth Day is about awareness and making connections between cause and effect, preparation and preservation. I'm a big fan of environmental awareness. With knowledge comes responsibility. I'm a bigger fan of people coming together in service of environmental concerns and ecological necessity. Hands-on stewardship connects people to the planet on numerous levels. This too is good.

Environmental stewardship should be a constant endeavor shaping every aspect of our lives. Acting locally in response to thinking globally has never been so important, nor so easy. Showing up at the San Diego Earth Fair for a Sunday in Balboa Park with 85,000 of your closest eco-friends is just a piece of the activism puzzle.

Earth Day begins at home. And when I say home I refer to the domiciles we live in as much as the cities we inhabit and the ecosystems and bioregions in which they are found. Home is our neighborhoods as well as ourselves. Home is where we live.

It's time to clean house.

Beach clean-ups are about culture and community as much as they're about discarded cigarette butts, plastic straws and used balloons. More people picking up more litter more often can only benefit California's economy. Californian's generating less waste can only benefit California's environment. Clean communities are good for property values.

Community service through ecological stewardship should be the norm, not a well organized exception to be observed as a right of spring.. T-Shirt environmentalism, although clever and often amusing, is not enough. Picking up garbage and planting a tree is not enough if those efforts happen in isolation of a constant commitment to ecological sustainability.

Earth Day is more than a special event. Earth Day is a movement, an ideal, and a network of individuals working to restore a sense of biological balance and reasoned restraint. Earth Day is about taking responsibility for past mistakes in order to mitigate future hardships associated with the growth and greed of the 19th and 20th century.

Earth Day should be a national holiday celebrated everyday in every way circumstance and environmental stewardship dictate.

Earth Day is just the beginning.

Happy Earth Day!

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