Just a thought… We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. [Native American proverb]
50 years ago today, a brand new movement made headlines. The first Earth Day was the child of ignited social awareness that came during the Vietnam War; the environmentalist founders wanted to harness that activism to draw attention to pollution and the scourge of illness we were bringing upon our planet.
On this day 50 years ago, the streets of America were jammed with some 20 million people who heard – and wanted to spread – the message against dirty water, dirty air and litter.
Where are we now? Thankfully, we’ve changed in ways big and small: people no longer roll their eyes when you talk about recycling – with a few small exceptions – and we are always considering new ways to have a more positive impact on the world we live in. Littering is seen as the disgusting act that it is; climate change is recognized as something that is not only happening (and, yes, it usually snows in April in Canada) but is worsening yearly.
Here’s something I found out when I was researching today’s journal (thank you to NASA):
Global warming refers to the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities….climate change…refers to both human- and naturally produced warming and the effects that it has on our planet.
Even when it snows in April (or as Vanessa Williams sang, “…sometimes the snow comes down in June…”) there is no denying that our planet is warming. None. We can argue ’til we’re blue in the face about the causes and the possible solutions – and in this country, with so much dependency on the oil industry for families’ survival, those discussions get heated, if you’ll pardon the pun.
But the fact is, we need to do more – and less – and do it now. Unfortunately, it’s such a political hot potato, there appears to be little hope of that in the short term. And, honestly, I’m not up for a debate about any of this.
I’m not saying I’m right – I’m always open to learning – but I haven’t got any fight in me. A lot of Canadians take this very personally, as their livelihoods depend on it. Trust me, I know: many of them live in my family tree.
Where have 50 Earth Days gotten us? One only has to read about the Great Barrier Reef, the glaciers and icebergs, floods, wildfires and islands of plastic to see that we’re not doing enough, fast enough, and an ailing planet continues to get sicker.
While we all try, quite literally, to prevent getting sick ourselves, Earth has had a respite from the output of coal plants and cars. I’m not a scientist, but it doesn’t even take a degree from Trump University to recognize that waters are clearer, the air is cleaner and some aspects of this horrid self-isolation have brought about small measures of healing for the planet. As we protect our own lungs, the earth is breathing more easily these days. What a sobering thought.
Today, a simple step: turn off lights. Turn off fans. Unplug the devices you’re not using, so that they’re not sapping energy. The lists and suggestions are numerous and easily Googled; as we go about our insular lives these days, it might be worthwhile just to take a moment to look for ideas that might not have occurred to you.
And if you’re interested, I sat down and talked with a very interesting man, a REALTOR® who’s an expert on going green in terms of your home, whether or not you plan to list. He discusses what people are looking for in a “green home” and how to access information on what kinds of challenges climate change might bring to your very own backyard.
His name is Chris Chopik, he lives in Toronto, and I spoke with him for this podcast we did for the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). I think you’ll enjoy our talk.
And remember: Kermit was right about a lot of things, but on this day, it’s worth rethinking his song. Perhaps it is easy being green.
I’ll be back with you here tomorrow. Oh, and one more thing: where the heck did 50 years go?