For me, Earth Day is a reminder of what we should be doing every day. Mother Earth is the world; the land that provides for us, asking nothing in return besides love, care and appreciation. But that is something many people seem to have forgotten...and will probably forget tomorrow.
We take advantage of what's amply available to us and abuse the gift of water, mountains, valleys, wildlife, trees and blue skies. We create machines that pollute at exponetially high rates; we waste water like it's infinite; we drive cars as if gas will always be available; we use appliances - even our computers and mobile phones - without thought or consideration of its energy use; we drink from plastic bottles and eat off styrofoam plates without regard to where they end up, in landfills with no other use but to hide our selfish, materialistic ways. We have an attitude of, "If we can't see it, why does it matter?"
I've witnessed firsthand the beauty of this Earth - from the rocky shores of the Maine coast to the waterfalls and fjords in New Zealand. Whether it's witnessing a whale surface in the ocean, watching a sunset in Hawaii or driving through the Canadian Rockies, I cannot help but be moved by what Mother Earth has given us...and what we treat as the red-headed step-child with no voice.
Yet, it extends beyond beauty and aesthics. This earth that we traverse and call home provides us the air that we breathe, the food that we eat and the water that we drink, as well as the materials needed to provide shelter and care for our people. But, apparently, that is not enough fo us. We want things faster, better, longer, shorter, easier, prettier and more convenient...but at what expense?
Our choices, in regards to the environment, and our individual and global contributions (or lack thereof to act couscientiously) may not have an immediate, large-scale impact on the world and our daily lives, but collectively, we must realize the affect of our actions and inactions on the near and distant future. We cannot keep adding to the landfills, tapping into fuel reserves, destroying forests for neighborhoods and wasteful products and intruding upon natural reserves (Alaska Wildlife Refuge, anyone?)...and then wrap it up in a pretty bow and hand it to our future -- our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
We are the most inconsiderate species, and yet revel ourselves as highly intelligent, innovative and spiritual. Our own selfish desires (not necessarily needs) drives us to be materialistic, without blinking an eye at throwing away recyclable goods, killing an animal for sport or building new smoke stacks. And this abuse will continue its brutal cycle unless we make drastic changes.
And this change has to start with people, not the government. We, as land-dwellers and voters, need to become the voice for the cause - to nurture, preserve and appreciate the world, our land, our home as our long-lost ancestors did. Politics are for those in pursuit of additional "power" and stature, and their empty words and promises will not result in a lasting, positive impact for the environment, unless we take a strong stance with a loud voice. This crisis of environmental abuse does not fit into their scheme. It has not and will not be a pressing platform until it affects their voters, pockets and stock options.
With all that said, I make a plea -- to start with one simple change that will lighten your carbon footprint and have small but significant (and positive) impact on the world. Mother Earth depends on us to take care of her. Become an environmental caretaker, so we can continue to enjoy the beauty in this world....and then share it with our future, our children.