Earth Day 2011 – 41 years of commemorations big and small; trees will be planted, stream and river cleanups are going on all over the country and many are congratulating themselves on the progress that has been made. There has been progress; there’s no denying that. But that progress took time, and it took advocating and groups and petitions and then, it took laws. The Clean Air Act – the one that we are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of- gave the federal and state governments the ability to limit the emissions from industrial and mobile sources. We as a country realized we couldn’t continue to foul the air; we realized our children were getting sick from the pollutants spewing from factories, and the tailpipes of our cars; that the land was being sickened not only by the pollution we were burying in it, or the spills of toxic waste, or the water we were fouling with our effluent, but also by the very rain that should have been sustaining it, the rain that fell through the clouds of particulates and smog. That rain was no longer the cleanser of the leaves, it was corroding them; it carried the lead, the mercury, the arsenic and the rest of the contaminants into the ground, into the water and added to the pollution level we were surrounding ourselves with.
Planting a tree to help with CO2 and clean air is a great step, not only for the symbolism. But we also need to remember that we cannot do this alone. You and I can’t clean up the results of the Industrial Revolution’s garbage one trash clean up at a time; we need to do this together with those that have the clout, the influence, the science and yes – the money. We need to make sure that those who only see the bottom line, the profit and loss take a look up as well. We need to help those who only see their job security as important, to see their child’s welfare, his lungs and her brain as crucial.
How do we do that? We get phone numbers, we get pollution numbers, we get the facts about what mercury does to the brain of a child; or soot to the lungs of an old woman. What the acid in the rain is really doing to the water it falls into, the ground that it nourishes. We get the phone numbers of our elected officials and call them, email them, write to them, go to meetings with them. And we tell them that we want to breathe clean air, we want to drink clean water, we want to be able to eat what we raise, or what we bring out of a lake.
Today when you plant a tree, or pick up the litter from a roadside or the wrapper blowing across the parking lot – take it another step further. Call and make sure your elected official knows how you feel about the EPA and your local pollution control agency – tell them not to gut their ability to keep the air breathable, the water drinkable. Here’s a link to finding phone numbers for the House and for the Senate. Thanks.
Happy Earth Day – to all of us. For more information on what you can do – visit Mom’s Clean Air Force