Looking Back - Article First Published on April 30, 2002:
Earth Day on April 22 seems a long time ago now even though it was only last week. It came and went so fast that there was almost no time to consider ideas and ways to implement them.
Then there were the images of Bush with a hammer in his hand and snow flurrying in the air which had to make you think "photo op".
The term that comes to mind is "Hypocrite in Triplicate" for Negating Kyoto, Enron Energy Policy and Oil Drilling in Arctic National Reserves which thankfully he lost, at least for now.
Update 2005: The drilling might be back on again due to the recent vote in congress but hang in, the fight may not be over. As someone pointed out - the oil in the Arctic only represents about a three month supply for the US!
Probably more impressive was the news that the actor Harrison Ford has pledged to use his private fleet of aircraft to patrol New York's Hudson River in an effort to combat pollution.
Now that is a better example of commitment than coming from Washington.
Maybe more millionaires could start doing reconnaissance of the environment and "put something back" instead of the usual self centeredness.
Hell, Bill Gates could do inspections on the whole West Coast - of the continent.
But what about Earth day?
Were there any new ideas floating around or was it the same old stuff, you know - turn off the water when you brush your teeth and all that.
Well it was pretty tried and true in the Denver area which is all right, a good idea is still a good idea.
So in the spirit of good ideas from the past, how about some "oldies" from the 60's that should be considered "goodies"!
1. What about using hemp for paper instead of trees?
Or are you still caught up in the view that it should be outlawed because it can be used to get high?
Hogwash is the straight of it.
You can't ingest enough to get high.
And prior to about sixty years ago in the US, hemp was used for paper.
It might even be true that the the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are on hemp but don't quote me, I don't know that.
So where did this elimination of hemp as paper come from? One story is that Randolph Hearst (Rosebud) had all this timber land that wasn't making any money so he was behind it.
But what is true is that hemp grows like a weed and using it for paper would eliminate destroying all those trees. And you can't get high from it.
Ed Note: Nothing wrong with getting high, too. But cannabis sativa is what you want not hemp.
If you still are questioning this issue, it might be a good idea for you to go on line and search the Web where there are many sites explaining the true facts.
(Sadly, this is another one that you can't trust your government to give you the straight scoop!)
2. Decrease Use of Resources through Group Living
Of course, maybe your grown up kids are living with you already so this is not an issue and if so then more power to you.
But if you have the space and are able, then what about letting a friend or family live with you?
There are certainly economic benefits in sharing expenses for the mortgage, utilities and food. And there is a big decrease in use of resources. It worked in the sixties and it can work again.
But this is not for the weak or the hung up or the faint of heart. This is tough and you can't throw out a family when you just have problems. You have to work it out. But the rewards are definitely there and they can be very sweet. Think about it!
3. Get a really efficient means of transportation and use it!
Suggestions include a car that gets at least 40 miles per gallon like a Geo Metro or a motorcycle.
(Some even consider the Metro the modern version of the VW bug!)
It is clear that people want a large comfortable car that fits their lifestyle, especially a SUV. But what about a second car that is just for fuel efficiency and making a statement like "I don't give a shit about image - I want to do something for the environment". There really is a big difference when you go to the gas station and fill up for under ten dollars even when gas is $1.40 a gallon.
And by using a low mileage car regularly you can feel better when you drive the guzzler that get 18-20 miles per gallon but is more comfortable and no doubt safer in a wreck.
As for the motorcycle that is another experience in mental discipline, safety and control and not for everyone. And most notorcycles get very good gas mileage and can put you in touch with the environment in ways nothing else can. But mistakes on a bike can be life limiting so be careful with this suggestion. Of course, getting into even a minor accident in a Geo would usually cause a change of venue.
Note: I left out bicycles even though they are probably one of the most fun, healthy and environmentally sound things to do but in most urban or semi-urban environments the safety factor eliminates this as an alternative. It would really make sense to build separate bicycle paths next to all highways and freeways. But trying to share space with cars and trucks can be a losing proposition.
But if you can ride regularly instead of using a car, then go for it. You are one of the chosen few!
4. Passive Solar for the Home & a Tax Incentive To Fund It
(Passive Solar goes back to the 1960's but the tax incentive was from the 1970's)
The technology is definitely there to heat or pre-heat your water using passive solar and has been in use for over thirty years. In fact, during the Jimmy Carter presidency there was a tax incentive program in place where you could deduct the cost of the equipment from your taxes. Jimmy was a real environmental president and during his administration a ton of solar systems were put in place. Why not do that again? True it won't deduct that much from the dependence on foreign oil but the sun is free and it will eliminate some. Why not work at this a little at a time? At least start!
Also there is a real advantage to those things you can do yourself. You get in touch with the problem and maybe you can come up with some refinement that can help the situation. It helps to remember that we are all in this together.
5. Make Love Not War!
Thought I would throw that in!
It helps if you can see that it is about love.
Love for yourself, your family, your children the next generation and your community and all the communities, the planet and the universe.
This is why we are doing Earth Day, isn't it?
And what about war, isn't that the complete opposite of protecting the earth and its resources. What is a greater pollution on the planet then bombs and all that comes with it? Governments and the military industrial complex that support and profit from war are the worst offenders.
But is the illusion of security by men fighting and killing in the your name worth it to you so you can eat fast food and play video games and enjoy your standard of irresponsible living?
Tough stuff, huh?
Maybe it is time to look at war as an environmental disaster and ban it, hopefully before Mother Nature gets pissed off enough to deal some real bad cards. Think on that!
6. Redistribute the Wealth
Whoa you say, that is heavy stuff.
"Hell I barely have enough for my family" you say.
But the truth is that 90% of the wealth and almost 90% of the resources are being used up in the good old US of A so that means that this country has to take the lead in solving the problem.
(Note: Some real numbers: United States holds 4 percent of the world's population and sucks up 25 percent of the world's energy.)
But take a minute and consider that everyone can do with a little less so that the other guy can have more. And by more I mean food, clothing, shelter and an opportunity once in a while.
This is about cutting back one restaurant meal a week - so that a family can eat for a month?
But the real distribution has to come from the wealthy, the billionaire individuals and companies, yes they are individuals too, check the tax code, and they pay almost nothing.
The wealth of the US is in a very few hands and they have not been good stewards.
Time for this to be considered and on a global scale. Burning down the Amazon forests and destroying the ecosystem would not be necessary if there was an alternative.
In a related thought-Ever hear of the "guaranteed income"?
This is an actual government program "experiment" that goes back to the 70's where families were selected and given enough money to live comfortably and monitored to see the affect on them and the community. (The last report I saw said everything was working quite well, by the way.) Well maybe it's time to expand that program to everyone.
As some have pointed out in regard to health care that if you could get the insurance companies and the government out of health care than the costs would probably drop in half or in a quarter?
Well consider that if you decrease the defense budget and eliminate the costs of many social programs which would not be needed then there is enough money to give everyone a guaranteed income of around 20K per year.
And if you just gave people enough money to live then crime would drop (and the costs of crime including police and the un-justice system) and people would get on with the job of taking care of the planet.
Pretty optimistic stuff, you bet!
But pessimism hasn't worked either.
Do you really want to stay on this path!
Well if Earth Day has any real meaning you have to do something, start down some road toward making a difference.
And ideally it should be on a lot of different levels.
Start with you - your house and your family and branch out from there.
And be public about it, not obnoxious but public.
Stand up for something by living it, not just talking about it.
And if you use these suggestions, then remind people that they came from the 60's where Peace and Love had a practical side, too.
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