Today as we commemorate Earth Day, I am reminded of some of the functions and activities I have participated in throughout my life. During that participation I was amazed by the generosity of others either through their giving of time, money, or their talents to help make those events have even greater impact.
In my college years at Marist, the school always had a number of activities going on through the course of the day. I learned a great deal about the environmental issues effecting the Hudson River and the surrounding Hudson Valley communities. I participated in a variety of activities to volunteer my time with different environmental organizations in the area.
The pollution in certain areas of the Hudson River as a result of a variety of commercial and industrial activities going on there was an area of great concern to me. I assume that interest could have been driven from my time growing up on the New Jersey Shore and seeing the effects of water pollution first-hand. The pollution and garbage on beaches and in parks along the coast also bothered me a great deal growing up and still does today. I have offered my time in beach clean-ups with local organizations and I know my neighbors have done the same.
It is that spirit that I came to have a great affinity for with regard to Earth Day: it is a grassroots movement that organizes itself every year on the local level. It is the collection of many people doing many small things which collectively have a large impact on our environment and how we come to perceive our environment as part of our community.
Earth Day 2015 has been marked by a few key news stories from President Obama’s visit in the Florida Everglades to speak about the fragility of the ecosystem and climate change, to the man in Brooklyn who planned to swim the Gowanus Canal, to Google having a contest “what type of animal are you?” based on a short quiz. In addition the Gallup poll numbers regarding climate change were released today, which continues to be a highly divisive issue in the American national discourse.
The President urged greater awareness of the impact of carbon emissions on the environment. The EPA and several doctors warned the man in New York not to swim the Gowanus Canal which is contaminated by 200 years of industrial waste. In fact, I did a whole series on the EPA Superfund that included the planned cleanup of that Canal which was published in January 2014 (see this link: http://frankmaduri.com/?m=201401) and can attest that swimming in that water is not medically advisable. However, the man, Christopher Swain, is trying to prove a point that people should not have to live near such a horribly polluted body of water.
In addition, for those of you who are wondering, yes I did take the Google quiz for Earth Day and found out that I am a Pangolin, known to be a practical sort who can fend off predators, well I am from New Jersey so I think I can definitely fend for myself.
In all seriousness, Earth Day is a reminder that we have been given the responsibility to be stewards of the natural resources provided to us by God. The issues of deforestation, erosion, drought, and pollution are rampant throughout the world. We need to work together to determine effective strategies to solve these complex problems and safeguard our natural resources and our ecosystem for the generations to follow.