What does Earth Day mean to you?

Horizon

It's Earth Day -- which is a great time to think about, well, the Earth, our environment, and our impact upon it.

Some questions:

What are you doing to improve the environment? Are you walking the walk, while you talk the talk?

Is "personal responsibility" enough - as the Bush Administration's EPA would have us believe? Or do we need local, regional, national, and global solutions that set standards, shape markets, and change everyone's behavior?

How can we all ensure that we're leaving this place better than we found it?

Discuss.

Comments

  • LeLo (unverified)
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    We can easily be overwhelmed by "it's never enough" and "we're doomed." This Earth Day, I'm remembering what my grandparents did—nothing crazy and overwhelming—but simple things like trip chaining, buying things to last, re using what we have—and keeping it close to home. If I can incorporate more and more of these things, I know I'll sleep a little better at night. (I wrote about it over at my place.)

  • RedBaiter (unverified)
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    April 22nd is also the birthday of legendary progressive leader Vladimir Lenin. Coincidence? I think not.

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    I can see that picture a thousand time and still be amazed at how beautiful it is.

    My wife and I have worked to improve the environmental performance of our older house: installing low-E windows, blowing insulation into the walls, putting in a low-flow toilet, using non-toxic paint, using a high efficiency furnace and disconnecting our downspouts. We both drive Hondas; I gave my BMW to a non-profit when the Insight came out in 2001.

    There's a lot more that we could do. We fly too much, but we still try to do as many things in our everyday life as we can.

    We also volunteer for pro-environmental candidates and support the Oregon League of Conservation Voters and OSPIRG. Both groups have been working -- with Brad Avakian and the governor's office -- to pass a renewable energy standard that, when passed, will be the most significant environmental legislation in the last fifteen years. It's going to be one of the most exciting things coming out of this session.

    The Oregon House will be voting on the clean energy bill as early as this week, and the vote could be closer than it was in the Senate. You can help here.

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    I have always taken public transportation (or walked) to work (in NYC, DC, and Portland) since I started supporting myself 28 years ago. I do fly a lot, but my family is back east and I travel for work, and at least I am flying commercial. %^>

    I've been enjoying the Slate "Green Challenge" series too.

  • A different view (unverified)
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    Wealthy societies are far more environmentally conscious than poor societies. The reason should be obvious: environmental protection is expensive, and until an economy reaches a certain level, the people simply can't afford things such as sewage systems and controls on point source pollution.

    Therefore the single best thing any of us can do for the environment is to do what we can to increase the wealth of not only our society, but also that of every developing nation who have not yet reached the level of wealth that affords them the luxury of prioritizing environmental protections.

    In concrete terms, that means:

    1) we should as a national policy ensure the free flow of goods across borders so that developing countries have access to our markets. 2) we should individually consume as much as we can afford, because what is consumed must first be produced. The act of production is the act of job and wealth creation.

    I know this is a bit counterintuitive, and flies in the face of the "conservation" ethic. But consider: if everyone in the U.S. actually DID "conserve," (meaning consume less) then U.S. GNP would plunge, creating joblessness not just in the U.S., but worse, in developing nations who then will more slowly (if ever) climb into the phase of economic maturity where they can afford environmental protections.

    So, the best thing you can do for Earth Day is be as productive as you can possibly be, and use the income that results from your productivity to consume and invest, thereby growing the global economy and quickening the pace by which third world and developing economies can afford to join the ranks of the environmentally conscious.

  • Ms. Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    The best thing I've done is start riding an EgoVehicle last year...check out egovehicles.com They are all electric, ride in the bike lanes, go up to 20 miles per hour, and get up to 25 miles on one charge. Plug into any standard outlet and charge fully in 3 hours from a dead battery. They are fun to ride and if you put collapsible racks on the sides and a basket on the front, you can grocery shop/run errands/etc. I love mine and I don't drive now except when the weather is total crap or I have to haul my kayak somewhere....go EGO!

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    and use the income that results from your productivity to consume and invest... in the third world, that is.

    One way to do that: Kiva.org allows you to make micro-loans to specific individuals in the third world that are trying to lift themselves out of poverty. Often, you'll be supporting women who aren't otherwise able to obtain funding. (We're talking a few hundred bucks here.)

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