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This is the day to think about the Earth and how we treat it


Published: Tue, April 22, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

This is the day to think about the Earth and how we treat it

EDITOR:

Earth Day 2008 is the closest we’ve come in the United States to consensus on the Earth’s importance. For the first time, environmental issues are on the airwaves, on the Internet, and in the stores. Even WalMart is using the E-word, and every corporation wants to look green as grass.

That’s all very nice, but how do Earth Day and larger environmental issues play out in our everyday lives? Every flush of the toilet, every flip of the light switch, every trip to the mall, every forkful of food has environmental implications. True, for one person, they’re not large. What’s a couple of gallons of water that, in this part of North America anyway, is relatively plentiful? I only need the light on for an hour — a pound or two of coal at the power plant out of the tons they burn every day. And gas for the car? It’s only a couple of gallons to get to Eastwood and back.

The point, though, is this: our individual choices magnified a billion-fold add up to disaster for the planet. We in the post-industrial nations won’t feel the pain in our own lives for a while. If I read the papers or listen to the news, I’ll know that the Haitians are starving, right in our Caribbean back yard, in part because the price of staples like corn has skyrocketed, now that corn is going into wealthy nations’ gas tanks and not into poor nations’ bellies. I’ll know that the Arctic ice cap is melting rapidly and that the magnificent polar bear is probably doomed. But those of us in relatively privileged nations will be the last left standing, and, while the fate of the polar bear is tragic, there seems to be little we can do to prevent it. Maybe the zoos can keep them going for a while.

So is that all? Do I just shrug and walk away from it? Do I just go fill up the tank and run some errands, buy some more stuff to distract me from the pain I might feel? Maybe. Or maybe I join the millions of people who are finding ways to do things differently, in ways that sustain the environment rather than deplete it. Maybe I change my incandescent light bulbs to low-consumption compact fluorescents; maybe I put up a clothesline — the original solar dryer; maybe I turn lights off when I’m not in the room; maybe I install an on-demand water heater in my house; maybe I plant some new trees in my yard; maybe I ride my bike for short errands and carpool or take a bus to work (and vote for the WRTA levy); maybe I get involved with non-profits like Treez Please and Grow Youngstown that are working to make a difference at the local level. And maybe I send some money to one of the large environmental organizations like Natural Resources Defense Council or World Wildlife Fund that can exercise our collective clout to make changes on a national or even global scale.

For better or for worse, we are here now, being called on to prevent the destruction of our home. It’s all we have, and it’s in grave jeopardy. To borrow from JFK: If not now, when? If not us, who?

JEAN ENGLE

Youngstown

China is taking over

EDITOR:

I would like to ask not only the present president, but those who would be president and are promising to do so much for America a question;.

When are you planning to change the name of the United States of America to the United States of China?

People who have worked for companies in this country all their lives now find everything is going to China.

It wasn’t enough for toy companies to have them make toys (which they poisoned) in China, now furniture companies, some of which have been in business for 100 years, are going to manufacture their products in China.

RUTH E. MURPHY

Austintown


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