Earth Day, one day later

I heard the environmental activist, Sir Robert Swan, speak yesterday in celebration of Earth Day. This is the near 60-year-old man who walked to both the North and South Poles. He is planning yet another trip though he nearly died in both earlier efforts. In his interview Swan said that he didn’t consider himself an environmentalist, but a survivor. He wants the earth,too, to survive.
Hearing the known and unknown effects of the oil spill in the Gulf five years ago, resulting in such damage to many species, blue-finned tuna, for instance, is sobering to anyone willing to listen to facts with an open mind. Learning of the higher amounts of radon gas in Pittsburgh, sending all of us to test kits for air quality—me especially with the recent cancer death of my guide dog—and this upswing beginning at the same time hydraulic fracturing began (researchers are studying the cause/effect still), my anxiety grows about the ills of fracking. Just recently reports emerged of a gas company’s pipe leaking and leaking for a long time, sending gas and other hazardous material into PA streams and creeks. Hearing parents of all political stripes speak about the closeness of well pads to their houses and schools and children really puts a knot in the stomach. Combine this with reports of the starving, hypothermic baby sea lions whose mothers have to swim farther and farther to sea for food, and I want to escape into Jane Austen and Pirate baseball.
But Swan says we can survive, and more importantly, our planet can survive. Time to stop debating the cause of climate change, and, of course, stop debating whether or not climate change is happening. 97% of scientists confirm that it is. Who cares if this is cyclical, as some would say. Who cares that 3% of scientists deny it, and Senator Inhoff as well.
Even if we do not have children and grandchildren, shouldn’t we care about this most astounding creation, the Earth? What do we have to lose to try to use less energy, to recycle, to eat more vegetables and fruit? Even if we don’t consider that this planet is the greatest aspect of the theological creation story, we can see the endless value of its survival. This is not a liberal or conservative issue, a red or blue state one. If we care about the generations coming after us, if we care about the common good, don’t we have to try to reduce our foot prints? Mine are size 10s, after all.


About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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