Should we weep or cheer on Earth Day?


The first step toward any recovery is admitting that we have a problem. In fact, beaucoup problems. For example, despite the squawking of profiteering polluters and professional deniers, our very atmosphere — without which everyone and everything dies— is rapidly being degraded by our addiction to fossil fuels, literally altering Earth’s climate in disastrous ways. Yet, as we burn, our policymakers fiddle.

Rainforest Action Network/flickr

Rainforest Action Network/flickr

Let us fiddle with the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, they demand, uncaring about the vast amounts of ozone-destroying carbon that will be released by ripping open the boreal forest to get at the junk oil, or about the extra carbon-dioxide contamination that will come from processing this especially-toxic sludge.

Also, let us fiddle with the Earth itself by fracking deep underground shale to bring gas, oil — and ozone-depleting methane — to the surface. Oh, and let us keep fiddling with the priceless ecology of America’s ancient Appalachian Mountains by slicing off the mountaintops to cut coal-mining costs.

There are plenty of horrors to make you weep this Earth Day. But tears don’t bring change. That comes only from the determined effort of ordinary grassroots people to organize, strategize, and mobilize.

The good news for our Earth and our own existence is that such people are on the move in every part of America. They’re confronting the greedheads and boneheads, creating effective energy alternatives, forging fresh and sensible policies, lifting heads out of the sand, and producing the change we must have.

That’s what Earth Day is about. Don’t weep. Cheer the progress we’ve made, and join the movement for more.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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