And I mean it, not sarcastically at all. Some of us, however, don’t require a “Day” to be thankful for the bounty that the planet has bestowed upon us. And some of us also recognize that part of this bounty includes the people that God (or insert whatever politically correct term I am supposed to put there, consider “God” a shorthand if you like) has helped put on this planet to make it such a wonderful place. And when I celebrate Earth Day, as I will by taking a nice jaunt up Horizon Hill in Perinton, I’d like to believe that just for one day people who are celebrating the Earth actually stop to ask the question, “just what is “good” for the Earth?”
I don’t think many people actually know what is good, and I surely don’t. But Earth Day, as you know, is about deeming which side you are on. By having a special “Day” it pits those who celebrate it (presumably they are the only ones who care about the land, water, air, flora and fauna that sustain us) with those who do not celebrate it (presumably those that don’t care about that which sustains us). I find such an implication gut wrenching and plain wrong. Because if folks really were all acting in good faith, the presumption of all would be that we have an individual and shared interest in making the Earth as wonderful a place for us as it can be, and for our children and future generations. You’d have to be something close to a psychopath not to want life to be better. And a natural corollary to that idea would be that we all have a shared interest in actually figuring out what is “good” for the Earth and what is “not.” I’ll even grant that symbolism can help, if such symbolism actually ends up getting us the planet we want. But the point remains that there is right and wrong with regard to a “good” planet. It may be hard to know what “good” actually is, and what conditions are required or best for our human flourishing, but once such a thing can be understood, even if only in theory, then there IS a right and wrong answer to the question of how to get us there. Dodging that question does not make you an environmentalist, quite the opposite.
Today is not the day to remind folks of how “E”nvironmentalists and environmentalists are not thoughtfully disagreeing about how to get a better planet, but indeed I’ll leave you with a couple of questions based on reactions I’ve seen from sometimes large audiences. Do you think the formal celebrants of Earth Day would be excited if new, consensus, scientific evidence was found that rendered global warming a non-issue? I don’t care why the research found this (for example, a Martian bug happened upon the globe a century ago that made it hot, and it’s deciding to vacate next year and everything will turn to normal once it leaves), nor should anyone really, but do you think the “E”nvironmentalists would breathe a big sigh of relief and celebrate Earth Day even more jubilantly? I doubt it. Or what if there were evidence that the way to save the planet was to use insanely large amounts of pesticides on everything we do? Or take it from the “other side.” How many anti-Earth Day folks would be exuberant if a small government regulation would be sufficient to sustain the planet forever? Or how many folks would be happy if perfectly privatizing every conceivable piece of Earth’s property would solve all environmental problems (in fact it would, and I argue that both the left and the right would hate this world).
So, Happy Earth Day. In honor of Gaia I plan to continue to promote the institutions which research has shown seem to be best for preserving the “health” of the planet, and to discourage those that hurt it. We might start on this pretty spring day by asking everyone to write their representatives to end the ethanol mandate immediately. That would be a nice start. Mother Earth will thank you for it.
UPDATE: Our new dorm has “officially” received its LEED Gold certification. If you read the release, at least you’ll see that some attempt was made to make an apples-to-apples energy usage comparison with other buildings. No comments from this peanut gallery on that and the other bullet points today, it’s a Holy Day.