Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day, 2010 - or - We Won: Deal With It

This is an op-ed post. I generally start the title of these with "Lemming Tracks:" but not this time.

Earth Day, 1970-2010

Today is the 40th Earth Day.

It's a pretty big deal.
I Care About Earth As Though I Lived Here
I'm as concerned with 'the environment' now, as I was in 1970. Managing natural resources and having air that doesn't make my eyes water isn't the most important thing in my life: but it's important.

So why have I spent so much time, in the days before Earth Day's 40th anniversary, writing about lint?

Partly, it's to let folks know that lint isn't just stuff that clogs up dryer filters and occasionally burns down homes. It's a recyclable resource: and surprisingly useful.

Partly, it's a sort of tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it's okay to be a little less tense about Environmental Issues.

The way some folks talk, you can almost see the capital letters.

Me? Despite the name of this blog, the Lemming cares. The problem, for some folks, is that I don't care "deeply, passionately, hysterically, about the 'right' things.

1970: That's So Sixties

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, 2010 isn't 1970. Quite a bit has changed. For the most part, I'd rather live now, than then. I remember the 'good old days.' Happy Days weren't, not for everybody. And the sixties? I made it out, and don't want to go back.

Not everything that's happened since 1970 is an improvement, of course.

But environmental awareness? That's changed. In general, I think, for the better.

Take phrases like "environmental awareness." They're part of America's vocabulary now. 1970? Not so much.

If you say "ecology" now, you will get a variety of responses: but not the uncomprehending look you'd be likely to see, back in 'the good old days.'

We Won: Deal With It

Not everybody's completely satisfied with today's status quo. With upwards of 307,000,000 people in America, as of July of last year, If all Americans kept insisting that life and the world were just simply wonderful - I'd be concerned. Very concerned.

But words like "pollution" and "environment" are so emotionally-charged for so many people now, that some politicians use them the way other politicos (presumably) used phrases like "motherhood, the flag and apple pie" before the sixties.

Sure, human beings still live in North America, and we haven't razed our cities to make room for green growing things.

But - how can I break this gently? We won: the tree-huggers; folks who think digging up undisturbed prairie to get at the sand underneath is a bad idea; people who think that we need to be responsible about using natural resources.

That's a hard pill to swallow, for some. It's so much more satisfactory - in a way - to feel like that lonely, heroic figure: valiantly striving for some great cause.

After your side wins, trying to play that part doesn't look quite so - heroic?

Not to worry, though. This is an imperfect world, and there's generally something for the more earnest of us to get upset about.

Me? In commemoration of the 40th Earth Day, I decided to earnestly extol that under-appreciated sustainable resource, lint.

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