Earth Day cometh — the 43rd year of this national focus on the state of our globe. So, how is Earth doing? Should we be weeping … or cheering?
The first step to any recovery is recognition of the obvious: Earth has a problem. In fact, beaucoup problems. For example, despite the squawking of profiteering polluters and professional deniers, our very atmosphere — without which everyone and everything is dead — is rapidly being degenerated by our own addiction to fossil fuel, literally altering Earth’s climate in disastrous ways. Yet, as we burn, energy corporations blithely fiddle.
They’re fiddling with tar sands oil in Alberta, Canada, uncaring about the vast amounts of ozone-destroying carbon that will be released by ripping open Northern Alberta’s boreal forest to get at the junk oil, or about the extra carbon-dioxide contamination that will come from processing this especially toxic sludge at Big Oil’s Gulf Coast refineries.
Also, they’re fiddling with the Earth itself, by fracking deep underground shale to bring gas and oil — plus more ozone-depleting methane — to the surface. And they’re still fiddling with the priceless ecology of America’s ancient Appalachian Mountains and streams by exploding off the mountaintops — merely to make it easier and cheaper for Big Coal to extract the ozone-killing carbon.
There are plenty of horrors to make you weep this Earth Day. But tears don’t bring change. That comes only from the determined effort of ordinary grassroots people to organize, strategize and mobilize. The good news for our Earth and our own existence is that such people are on the move in every part of America. They’re confronting the greedheads and boneheads, creating effective energy alternatives, forging fresh and sensible polices, lifting heads out of the sand — and producing the change we must have.
The courageous and tenacious mountaineers of Appalachia, for example, are at last beginning to score big victories in their long, hard fight against the coal giants, including winning an agreement last November from one, Patriot Coal, to cease all mountaintop-removal coal mining.
Also, from Vermont to California, the frackers are getting fracked, as local groups are winning fights in city halls, legislatures and courts to stop the rampant exploitation of their land, water and communities. And, all across the country, including in the reddest of red states, grassroots advocates are producing a sensible shift from fossil-fuel dependency to renewable fuels and conservation.
That’s what Earth Day is about, so don’t weep — cheer the progress we’ve made, and join the movement for more.