It’s Our Turn to Do Something for Mother Earth

You probably know that Americans celebrate Earth Day on Wednesday, and I’m sure you are planning some gesture – however small – to show your appreciation for this tiny, magical planet spinning through space day after day, year after year, so reliably that we can be sure the sun will rise every morning. If you would like a few suggestions, click on this link to the government’s Earth Day site:

When you think about it, all life (that we know of) depends on the earth’s survival, and yet we have treated our planet with wanton disregard. How can anyone believe in a Creator and treat His precious work like that?

earth dayFortunately, there is a growing awareness of the perils of pollution all over the world. Negotiations for a new global climate agreement are coming up in December, and even in China, where black smoke billows from smokestacks that are sprouting like poison mushrooms, the government has created a stamp to commemorate the event (photo at right). In America a new administration is hard at work undoing the damage inflicted on the environment by former President Bush. And in Congress, representatives Henry Waxman and Ed Markey recently introduced a comprehensive bill to address the dangers of climate change.

Previous attempts at a meaningful climate bill failed because of the anti-environment Bush Administration and entrenched Big Oil interests. Blinded by insatiable greed, polluters and their allies have devoted millions of dollars to block this kind of legislation, outspending supporters by as much as 20 to 1. But we have a government now that listens to the people, and our voices will be heard. That’s why it’s so important to speak out. One way of doing that is by adding your name to this petition:

Of course, I have signed the petition. I believe in petitions. In a country of more than 300 million citizens, the American government is too remote from daily life to be adequately in touch with public sentiment, and a few loud voices can have a disproportionate effect on policy. As our grandparents told us,  it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

And on Wednesday I will plant a tree – another tree. I like to plant trees, especially fruit trees, even when I know I may not be around to eat the fruit. As the old saying goes, wise is the man who plants a tree under whose shade he will never sit. When I think of my homeland, Jamaica, and the hillsides covered in mango trees, breadfruit trees and so many other fruit trees that have sustained generations of Jamaicans, I think back to the people who planted those trees long, long ago, and I offer them my thanks.

I am sure you know how vital trees are to the earth’s survival. They provide habitat for our vulnerable fellow-creatures and prevent soil erosion. They help in maintaining the water cycle and check global warming by taking in carbon dioxide. Yet we are rapidly losing our forests as rapacious profiteers denude the face of the earth. Over the past 50 years, about half the world’s original forest cover has been lost. And with that loss, the entire ecosystem begins to come apart, with dire consequences for all of us.

When you think of the magnitude of the problem, you might feel small and alone, but our numbers are increasing and our resolve is strong. On this Earth Day – and every other day – we will stand shoulder to shoulder around our tiny, magical planet, telling the polluters and ravagers that they’ve done enough harm and it’s time to cease and desist.