Earth Day 2013

8:16 am in Environment by dakine01

Portage Glacier, August 1997

The first Earth day was declared by the UN for March 21, 1970 but for the US, the date of April 22 was established by then Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. I do not really recall anything from either of the “Earth Days” from 1970. That was my senior year in high school at a military school and my guess is that date was right around the time when the school had its annual “Federal Inspection” where an active duty cadre of US Army officers (if I remember correctly, that year it was the ROTC staff from Penn State) would come in and inspect the physical plant, military education, and cadets. We must have done OK in the inspection as we were named an “Honor Military School” for that year (as well as the 3 previous years I attended.)

Rachel Carson had written the book Silent Spring in 1962 which:

is widely credited with helping launch the contemporary American environmental movement.

I do know that starting the next spring when I was finishing my freshman year at Western Kentucky University, I participated in Earth Day activities. Over the years I have marched in support of Earth Day. I have picked up trash along the side of the road. I have planted trees. And I have attempted to reconcile my life as a consumer with my ideals of trying to work for the betterment of Mother Earth (albeit not always successfully.)

Today, April 22, 2013 is not only Earth Day, it is the last day to submit public comments on the Keystone XL pipeline. I find a lot of reasons to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline but probably the most important reason of all, is the idiocy of having a pipeline filled with poison go over one of the largest fresh water aquifers in the world.

Of course, we have people like the Chairman of Nestle proclaiming that access to water is and is not a human right:

“I am the first one to say water is a human right. This human right is the five litres of water we need for our daily hydration and the 25 litres we need for minimum hygiene.

“This amount of water is the primary responsibility of every government to make available to every citizen of this world, but this amount of water accounts for 1.5% of the total water which is for all human usage.

“Where I have an issue is that the 98.5% of the water we are using, which is for everything else, is not a human right and because we treat it as one, we are using it in an irresponsible manner, although it is the most precious resource we have. Why? Because we don’t want to give any value to this water. And we know very well that if something doesn’t have a value, it’s human behaviour that we use it in an irresponsible manner.

Sunset along the Little Manatee River, January 2013

Access to water has been a theme of many dystopian novels and films. I’m thinking here of Waterworld and Ice Pirates, both bad films but with a message we should probably heed.

I do not know how we can stop poisoning ourselves. We have the Arkansas pipeline spill as one of many pipeline leaks each year. Exxon has now admitted that the oil (which they go to great lengths to keep from calling oil) is the stuff that will flow through the Keystone XL if the pipeline is built. The pipeline in Arkansas carried 90K barrels of oil per day. Keystone XL is supposed to carry up to 800K barrels of oil per day.

I’m not going to get into the explosion in West, TX other than to (rhetorically) wonder how many other fertilizer plants and other facilities around the country are bombs waiting to go off in small communities.

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