This year marks the 40th Earth Day. In some ways, we’ve come a very long way. DDT is still used though, just not here in the U.S., where the delta effect of the Mississippi River was causing thin, broken shells on peregrines and some eagle eggs. The peregrines and eagles have made a full recovery (with the help of falconers and other environmentally aware individuals.) Smog is greatly reduced in the U.S. as well. We say we Think Green, and there’s certainly a lot of Green press. There are even tax credits for energy-efficient appliances (and to spur the economy.) Miller time? Not even.
Part of the reason we don’t have as much pollution in the U.S. is that we’re buying all those goods from other countries now — countries which don’t share our laws about pollution. So instead of polluting the world HERE, we’re causing tons of toxic wastes and byproducts to be dumped into the rivers and oceans of China instead… and at a much higher rate. And what about our track record with the other inhabitants of our planet?
For two decades, there have been accords with nations all over the world, international agreements not to kill whales (which includes dolphins and porpoises as well.) Throughout those two decades, Japanese whalers have continued to do so with impunity by calling their commercial kills “research” and claiming to be taking “tissue samples”. And the slaughter of whales continues off the coast of Denmark’s Faroe Islands as well. Both of these nations have thumbed their nose at the rest of the world with impunity. What the Japanese is doing is finally being revealed in the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove”. So it’s all better now, right? One would think… and be very sadly mistaken. Most people still haven’t viewed the film yet, so they don’t know what horrors are unleashed upon these sentient neighbors who have befriended us for thousands of years. They still don’t know about the incredibly toxic mercury levels in dolphin flesh which is being marketed as whale meat and provided to unsuspecting Japanese families as food. They don’t know that dolphins can and do willfully suicide in captivity, preferring death over the constant barrage of living in a fish bowl when they’d normally cover a hundred miles of ocean a day, frolicking in the waves. They don’t know about the many documented cases of dolphins putting themselves at risk to come to the aid of a human surfer or swimmer or vessel… or of the betrayal these beautiful, magnficent, advanced and sentient creatures suffer at human hands.
Some may want to stuff their heads in the sand, ignore it, or say it can’t be PROVEN that we humans are doing damage. Those are thin, frail arguments, and no excuse to risk finding out the hard way.
Every year, we make a New Year’s resolution to improve ourselves. This year, this Earth Day, let’s make a new resolution, and stick to it. Let’s make EVERY day Earth Day. Be conscious of the energy you’re using and wasting. Be aware of the ways that what you do affects the planet, and try to reduce that impact. A little at a time, together, we can make a BIG difference in our lives, and the lives of all the other creatures that we share this planet with. Here’s to hoping that next year this time, we’ll be celebrating the 365th consecutive Earth Day.