Letter from the Editor
Good morning, it's Sunday, April 27. And how are you feeling today about your planet?
Another Earth Day has come and gone, and with it a chance to reflect on what we're doing -- or not -- to preserve God's green earth.
There are encouraging signs that suggest we're taking this seriously. We've been recycling for years, we're now using more energy-efficient lighting and we're beginning to eschew plastic bags at the supermarket for re-useable cloth totes. Manufacturers are making products that are more energy and water efficient. We're waiting in line to buy fuel-efficient hybrid cars.
The Herald published an Earth Day story about Village of the Arts gallery owners Kevin Webb and Diane Montrose, who are transforming trash and found objects into their art. They've recycled everything from suitcases, birdcages and roller-skates to plastic and small toys for their work.
All these efforts count toward the preservation of our planet and are worth celebrating. But are we just scratching the surface? Will it be enough?
Satirical novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who passed away a year ago, once suggested the following message be carved into the walls of the Grand Canyon for the aliens who'll be arriving in flying saucers to survey our demise:
"We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard . . . and too damn cheap."
It is difficult to fathom why it has taken us so long to embrace the green concept. It was 38 years ago when Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, dismayed by government's ignorance of environmental issues, fostered the notion of a day to focus on the plight of our planet.
America is one of the world's worst polluters, yet our government has been dragging its heels for years over the environment. We managed to enact the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1977, and we continue to tinker with fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles. The dossier is not that impressive, and nothing has come easy.
I'm not sure Al Gore deserved a Nobel Peace Prize for "An Inconvenient Truth" but if the Oscar-winning documentary helped raise world awareness about global warming, he deserves more than a pat on the back. We've spent far too much time arguing over the very existence of global warning, and not enough time seeking solutions to repair or allay environmental damage.
We've been warned by a U.N. panel that global carbon emissions must begin to drop by 2015 or we risk catastrophic climate change. Yet President Bush, who balked at the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases after he took office, recently gave the U.S. a deadline of 2025. You've probably already figured out I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure those extra 10 years without mandated limits would not be kind ones to Mother Earth.
Our three leading presidential candidates all appear to be more supportive of the environment than the current administration. (It is, after all, an election year). It will be interesting to see who among them might raise the topic above the level of campaign rhetoric.
Meanwhile, we can keep plugging away. It's all right to feel good about the efforts we're making, but it's a long haul until Earth Day 2009. We shouldn't wait 365 more revolutions around the sun for our next move.