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Earth Day: Think Globally, Act Locally

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on April 22, 2011 | Comments (0)

I was originally going to call this post, “Think Small.” As I was writing it, however, I came to realize that title wouldn’t really capture the depth of what I am suggesting.

I think it was the late brilliant comedian George Carlin who pointed out that we don’t have to save the Earth. If we pollute, bomb, and do everything necessary to destroy all human life, the Earth will be just fine. It may take a few thousand years—maybe longer—for the Earth to purify the air with its “lungs” composed of trees, flora, and rainforests. It may take as long or longer to purify the Earth’s “blood” as it’s cleaned through the soils and rocks and vein-like rivers. It may take even much longer to purify any radioactive pollution. But the Earth will eventually restore herself.

We don’t have to save the Earth. If you want to commit to making a change, you’re committing to saving life as we know it. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call it People Survival Day.

I still remember growing up in Los Angeles. Some days the air was so bad my eyes would burn as if salt had been poured into them. My lungs hurt so badly that rather than taking full breaths I’d take short, little gasps, hoping I could breathe without the pain.

In order to literally survive, the citizens of Los Angeles had to make some sacrifices. At that time, each house, apartment and business had behind it an incinerator to burn trash. They were banned. Although faced with fierce opposition from auto corporations, the citizens collected over a million signatures on a petition to Congress so that Congress would allow individual states to set more strict anti-smog controls on cars. The auto companies spent millions of dollars fighting the legislation. They said it would add hundreds of dollars to the cost of cars and would ruin business. Later, after the bill was passed, they fought it through the courts. Finally, when they had no choice but to obey, they started using it as an advertising gimmick, saying how much their cars now reduced smog. Had they done that from the beginning, they could have saved millions of dollars and our air would be cleaner.

The air in L.A. still isn’t clean—far from it! But it’s much cleaner than when I was a boy. I honestly don’t remember a day for years when the smog was so bad that a child couldn’t go out and play.

But you don’t have to work to get a mass movement to make massive changes. You can start by doing little things, at home, that can make a big difference. Your small actions now can make big differences later. Acting in small ways locally can make major differences globally. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Recycle as much of your trash as possible.
  2. Bring bags to carry your shopping so when asked, “paper or plastic” you can say “Neither!”
  3. Walk or bike.
  4. Buy fruits and vegetables grown locally.
  5. Start your own vegetable garden.
  6. Send an email stating your position on bills related to ecological issues to your Congressional Representative and Senators.
  7. Pick up a piece of trash.

These are all easy, small items that will take up little time, effort, or money. Some are fun and good for your health. You don’t have to start a movement to save the planet. Just do something small. Just one of those things or something similar will make you part of a global movement.

Maybe they’ll call it People Survival Day.

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