Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sakonnet Voices: KELLY KITTEL

Happy Earth Day. This just sounds funny to me. With everything going on around us, I no longer think “Earth Day” is just a day anymore. Green is everywhere. News, TV, radio, big government, small government, schools, kitchen tables, and everywhere in-between. While more reactive than proactive at this point, we are still witnessing the changing of an ethic all around us.

Kelly Kittel, co-founder of Step It Up Aquidneck Island, captures this nicely:

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22, and I am wondering if we could all pause for a moment to think about this silently spinning orb we call home. Every day is Earth Day for the residents of this planet, all 6.6 billion of us, a staggering number and one that is taxing the carrying capacity of our planet in many ways. Have you thought much about it? Have you thought about the footprint you are leaving? How do you think our planet is doing, overall? Are we taking good care of it? I think the evidence is all around us that we have not been very good stewards. We have major issues facing us like global warming, resource exhaustion, endangered species, crop failure, and lack of clean drinking water to name a few. I keep looking and listening for the good news and am not hearing much in return. So, fellow earthlings, time to wake up and do some house cleaning.

There are many simple things we can do to help the planet and ourselves. Let’s start by making this island we inhabit 100% compact fluorescent. We can encourage our towns to change the traffic lights to LED which last for years instead of months. Look around your house. Have you had a home energy audit? Time to check that off the list. With heating oil prices rising every month none of us can afford to heat the outside. Take inventory of how many things you have plugged into the wall and try to eliminate one or two. Can you live without that hand lotion warmer? nd what is your room temperature? Could you put on another layer and lower the thermostat or open the windows and let the breeze blow through in the summer instead of shutting yourself inside with your air conditioner? How about your appliances? Are they all energy star rated?

Look around you. Is there a sunny spot in your yard where you could grow a tomato or some strawberries? Gardening is a wonderful activity to teach your kids and for your wallet, health and soul! Do you have a place to put a clothesline? The dryer is not only one of the biggest energy users in your house, all that lint you throw away is actually bits of your clothes wearing out. Do you really have a pest problem and is your lawn really not green enough or could you live without adding those chemicals to your house and lawn and, ultimately, the ocean. Are you doing as much as you can to reduce the waste you create, reuse what you can, and recycle what you can not? How much time do you spend outside listening to the birds and observing nature? The average American spends 20 minutes a day, including time spent in a car! Do the kids go out and play? Do you?

These are just some of the many things we can do to become better stewards of our home, the planet Earth. There isn’t another one we can move to when we’ve finished with this one. Remember, we did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. What legacy are you leaving?

3 comments:

Vince said...

Kelly mentions two things in her article that catch my attention.

First is "access to safe drinking water". WIRED magazine had an article this month on the frightening shortage of fresh water around the world. The online version is found at:

WIRED: Peak Water

Second was the "6.6 billion of us, [...] taxing [...] our planet". I fully agree that the human footprint on the planet is growing uncontrollably and not be defeatist but to play devil's advocate: what is me conserving some electricity really going to do? In fact, if all 6.6 billion of us lived "green" would even that make a difference given the number is expected to rise to 9 billion before the first half of this century. What is the "carrying capacity" of our planet for humans?

We practice "wildlife management" to ensure deer - for example - don't exceed the carrying capacity of the territory they inhabit. It always seemed draconian, but the Chinese "one-child policy" may be the first step in addressing *one* of the root causes of environmental issues: overpopulation.

Agree, disagree?

BILL GERLACH said...

Vince,

Great points. Couple of follow ups:

One of the more notable water shortage issues is going on right here in the U.S. The extended drought in Atlanta, Georgia, area has received a lot of coverage.

In terms of stemming the tide of population growth, there is the whole Zero Population Growth movement, most notably led by the group, Population Connection.

Maybe when push comes to shove, a population that is busting at the seams may just push entire societies to re-examine its approach to day-to-day life. It's an interesting -- and potentially thought provoking -- impetus to action.

twohands said...

I think I am potentially getting "off topic" but to comment on China's one child policy. When you decide to unnaturally control a very natural process like creating life and building a family you end up with unnatural consequences.

It is well known that China prefers boys to girls and that has of course led to an unnatural amount of boys. With girls being "thrown away" either by selective abortion or added to the already overcrowded orphanages (full of girls, of course). Since this policy was started in 1979 the first boys born under this policy have now come of age to marry and there are not enough women to go around. This has led to an increase in abduction and rape.

And quite frankly who knows if anyone would want to marry these guys, with the well documented "little emperor" syndrome.

And now these children are responsible for caring for their 2 parents and 4 grandparents, as is typically done in China. Putting a strain not only on that one child but on the state welfare system.

There are so many laws that govern my personal decisions. We live in a county where we need a law to tell people (in CA anyway) not to smoke in a car with a child. [I'm not condoning this, of course i just hate the idea that we need a law in place ...] If I'm dying it's against the law to allow me to die on my own terms. CA (again) is debating a new law that would make driving with a dog on your lap illegal. If i want to grow marijuana for my own personal use, not only would i be arrested they'd probably consider taking my kids away too.

I'm not suggesting anarchy, there are laws that we certainly need. Lately it seems as though I'm losing more and more of my personal freedoms. The last thing we need is the government telling us how to procreate.