Earth Day was first observed the year I was born, and for the last 42 years the initiative has gradually gained traction in North America and throughout the world. Personally, I like the fact that I was born into a generation that was beginning to take stock of the human impact on our environment, and is now working toward finding ways to lessen that impact, and perhaps even through positive change, reverse some of the harm that has already been done.
Cynics scoff at events like Earth Day. They point out that all those tree-hugging hippies aren't going to solve the world's environmental problems – many of which those same cynics would also suggest are either non-existent, or irrelevant – in a one day Earth love-in.
They are right of course. The environmental problems, many of which we are still trying to understand, are not going to be solved with a one day event. Nobody thinks that.
The cynics may also be right in thinking that not all of the changes to our environment in recent decades are a direct cause of human action. But when you look around your own community, there can be no question that much of what we humans have done over the last hundred years certainly hasn't helped.
Earth Day is about raising awareness. It is about taking time to reflect upon the world around us, and how our own actions impact that world. It is also a time to take some time out of our regular schedules to take action.
Whether that action is walking the beach to pick up garbage, or replacing the furnace filter to ensure that the furnace is operating at maximum efficiency, or ditching the car in favour of a bicycle to run those weekend errands, there are hundreds of little things, and many big things that we can do to ensure that we are walking as lightly as possible on the solid foundation that the Earth provides us.
Will those actions solve the pollution of water sources in India, or the air pollution in industrial cities in Russia or China? Well no, not directly. But there is a line from a song called “Passing Through” that I always like to keep close by to remind myself that however miniscule our efforts may seem to be on the world stage, we can still make positive change in our own communities, and if every community makes positive changes, then they can snowball and add up to major, wide reaching improvements.
“If I can't change the world, I'll change the world within my reach,” the lyrics of the song penned by Mark Erelli and Catie Curtis suggest. That line has in recent years become my personal inspiration for everything that I do in life.
And that is what Earth Day is truly about – changing the world within our reach.
This Saturday from 1 to 3 pm, in recognition of Earth Day, you will find The Meaford Independent at Memorial Park helping to support the Friends of Memorial Park organization, and the Municipality of Meaford to clean up the coffee cups, plastic pop bottles and a host of other trash that has been cast aside by we humans, and left to sully an otherwise beautiful park filled with trees, trails, and an abundance of nature.
We hope that you can join us, but if you can't, we hope that you can carve out a little slice of time to reflect upon how our actions impact our community and the world around us.
No the problems of the world won't be solved by observing Earth Day, but by raising awareness, and encouraging action, we can at the very least develop a greater appreciation for what surrounds us, and we just might find that what surrounds us is worth caring for.
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