Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

This year on Earth Day, it has been raining for most of the day, precluding most outdoor activities (at least for me). The earth around here certainly needs the rain, though. This spring has been abnormally dry so far.

In honor of Earth Day, The Capitol (Annapolis) has sought comments from naturalists involved with maintaining the Chesapeake Bay's health on how ordinary citizens can help the Bay. Here are their suggestions:

"Spending time outside is a huge thing. I encourage people to get outside in the environment, because the second you fall in love with it, you're going to take care of it. There are a lot of beautiful things around us to enjoy.

"Get involved. There are all these publications with community events: tree plantings, trash pickups, planting buffer zones.

"Vote. This is still a democracy, and in the last few years the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has lobbied for bills that upgraded our sewage treatment plants and will clean the air. Because so many people responded, that had a huge effect on why those bills passed. So many people responded that lawmakers and the governor got flooded."

-- John Rodenhausen, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

"People can do things like plant trees. It's a simple act, but forests provides benefits to water quality and air quality, and also provide animal habitat. Some things are simple, but bear repeating: Think about using pervious (porous) surfaces for driveways or patios, conserve water, car-pool, minimize using fertilizer on lawns, buy a Treasure the Chesapeake license plate, teach your kids about the bay.

"If you have a septic system, it needs to be properly maintained and pumped out regularly. A lot of times they are overtaxed and they are contributing quite a bit of nutrient pollution to the bay through groundwater.

"People can get out and volunteer and participate in water monitoring and restoration projects. There are a lot of watershed organizations that are active and trying to do the right thing."

-- Frank Dawson, Department of Natural Resources

"Support and participate in a rapid transition from our dependence on fossil fuels. Global climate change is a real threat; there is really no debate about this among scientists. We must act now to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases or leave a terrible legacy for our children and grandchildren.

"Help find a way to sustain more environmentally compatible agriculture. Nutrient pollution from agriculture remains the largest and most stubborn problem limiting the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Change the American culture that promotes harmful sprawl development. Sprawl is a threat that will in the long term undo many of the gains we are making to reduce pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. It not only harms the bay, but also damages forests and streams, forces out farms, and consumes enormous amounts of energy and public resources."

-- Dr. Donald F. Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Meanwhile, is bragging about President Bush's ecological achievements.
The Bush Administration is focused on achieving meaningful results – cleaner air and water, and healthier lands and wildlife habitats.
  • The nation's air is much cleaner today than it was in 1970 and progress will continue.
  • The trend of annual loss of wetlands has been reversed.
  • Restoration and redevelopment of abandoned industrial sites is accelerating.
  • President Bush is meeting his commitment to reduce the National Park Service maintenance backlog.
It does not mention that many of Bush's initiatives on these fronts actually have pushed back deadlines and lowered goals, reduced the obligations on industry and penalties for noncompliance, or provided cover for gutting environmental legislation under the guise of names that suggest something more benign.