Here we are again at Earth Day (officially April 22). And I can’t help thinking — What a difference Al Gore has made. That little Oscar-winning movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and a little thing called a Nobel prize add a surprising amount of clout.
I seem to recall that sometime in the middle of the Bush Administration, people were still on the fence about whether or not climate change (aka global warming) existed. And Earth Day was starting to seem like a joke. The eco-conscious and environmentalist community were laughed at in the mainstream, often dismissed as crack-pot, idealistic hippies peddling a life of discomfort and living without.
Now gas is well above the $3 mark with no signs of lowering any time soon. The oil fields are nearing the end of their peak production. And oil companies are making record profits. Let’s face it, this isn’t the 1970s gas crisis that was fueled by political reasons. This is about a non-renewable resource running out.
We are such a predictable society. Even though environmentalists have been trying to get America to change its ways for decades, now that Americans are getting hit in their pocket book, we are paying attention.
But in the end, I’m just glad that people are finally paying attention. (According to a March Pew Research Center poll, 9 in 10 Americans favor better auto fuel efficiency standards, while 81% also support increased federal funding for alternative energy and mass transportation, 72%.)
Indeed, I’ve been in green heaven the past month as several television stations have put on green programming (such as local environmentalist Tara Pike-Nordstrom appearing on TLC’s What Not To Wear). At Home Depot they’re giving out “Eco Options” guides (and I noticed all of the lamps and chandeliers in their lighting section had CFLs). Target has partnered with Newsweek to take back used plastic bags (through a mail-in program) and re-purpose them into reusable shopping bags available at the stores. I even like the new ads promoting collaboration between all Americans — no matter your politics — in order to save the earth.
The truth about environmentalism is that it is far easier now than ever before to live a relatively comfortable life and do good by the earth. There are a growing number of products and services for everything these days: personal hygiene, beauty products, food, biofuels, conservation measures for the home, eco-friendly appliances and kitchen tools, clothes, shoes, reusable shopping bags, green dry cleaners, eco-friendly paints and other home improvement items, recycled, re-purposed and sustainable furniture, and on and on. And in most cases being eco-conscious will save you money (even when factoring in an initial start-up cost), make you feel healthier and is easy. Need proof? Check out The Siren’s Eco Stuff page (in the top navigation bar).
I hope that this trend continues. I hope that the tips people pick up on become habits for life. And I hope that it motivates people to become more involved in the process, as renowned climate scientist James Hansen urges. Nevada is one of the states with the greatest untapped potential for alternative energy and we have an aggressive Renewable Energy Portfolio, if anyone would ever force state legislators and the PUC to back it up.
Commit to one new earth-friendly lifestyle change this year. Get involved in the process. And of course, reduce your impact, reuse when you can and recycle in order to save precious resources and give new life to garbage.
Happy Earth Day!