It is Earth Day, a moment for individual reflection, an opportunity for personal commitment and a unique chance for all of humanity to take ownership of the future.
It is not just his future.
It is not just her future.
It is not just their future.
It is not relegated to the needs of tomorrow for just our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown, nor for the state of Tennessee, nor for the Southeast U.S. region, nor for our beloved America and neither is it intended for just the North American continent.
It is global. It is the entirety of mankind.
It is for Planet Earth.
Earth Day isn’t the third leg of a long holiday weekend. As such, sometimes it goes unnoticed. Yet, it is real. It is relevant. It is a brief slice of the year whose designation comes with great purpose.
It is a reminder that our environment gives us life. If we kill Mother Earth, we destroy ourselves. Thanks to mankind’s past and current abuses, Earth is no longer a perfect planet. But it is the only planet we have.
For this reason, and for a thousand others, it is incumbent upon all to take seriously the harm that our everyday deeds — littering, improper disposal of toxic substances and unleashing unfiltered emissions into the air, among others — are causing to our planet.
But our voice is merely the perspective of an average Joe. We speak only from the heart. We stake no claim to a higher education in the field of environmental science nor an understanding of best practices on how not to destroy Mother Earth.
As such, we will yield to the knowledge of someone who is qualified to speak on Earth’s future. She is Gwen Keyes Fleming, Southeast Region administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In a guest column forwarded to our newspaper, as well as to many others across the region, Fleming speaks to the work of the federal agency.
Her full opinion piece is published verbatim elsewhere on this page. But here’s a sampling of her thoughts:
- “What started as a day of national environmental recognition has evolved into a global campaign to protect our environment. Earth Day is now celebrated in more than 192 countries across the world.”
- “Today, we face severe energy challenges that pose a great threat to our global environment, international security and the worldwide economy.”
- “EPA is taking a number of sensible steps to address climate change through standards that reduce carbon pollution from the largest sources. These standards will prevent harmful pollution from our power plants, and cars and trucks, while saving consumers money at the pump and building a strong, clean-energy economy.”
Another comment by the EPA leader pares it all down to the most basic level: THE INDIVIDUAL. She cites, “Earth Day is a great time to reflect on individual actions to help protect the environment. Driving a car, using electricity to light and heat your home, and throwing away garbage all lead to greenhouse gas emissions.”
Regardless of our words, or by those from a leader whose expertise is a voice of experience, or from anyone else with a vested interest in life as we know it, the debate over the environment will continue.
Some believe in the impact of global warming. Some do not.
Some feel our natural resources are unlimited. Some do not.
Some surrender to the dangerous notion, “Any mistakes we make today can be corrected by the generations to come.” Some do not.
We encourage area residents to join the cause of “some do not.”
The more who do it today can lend a collective, and stronger, voice on behalf of all who believe in tomorrow.