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April 19, 2009

Make most of Earth Day opportunities

There's a lot to be optimistic about this Earth Day.

A new study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research predicts it's not too late to avoid many of the catastrophic effects of global warming _ if the world comes together now to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent.

Granted, that's a big "if," but if anyone can convince China and India to get on board, it's President Obama.

Having a commander in chief who is committed to conserving natural resources and working with world leaders on climate-change issues is further cause for optimism.

In his first 100 days in office, Obama has pledged $80 billion for clean energy development and signed a bill protecting 2 million acres of wilderness land in nine states.

He is working on the details of a cap-and-trade system designed to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and will take an active role in negotiating a pact to replace the expiring (and largely unsuccessful) Kyoto Protocol.

However, we don't have to sit back and wait for our leaders to hash out a plan to conserve resources and reduce emissions. In the spirit of Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22), we can all do our part in different ways _ and little things do matter.

Not everyone has the time, space or inclination to start a victory garden, the lifestyle to support a tiny, fuel-efficient car or the money to buy a front-loading washer. But we can all seek out local products in our stores, combine errands into one trip whenever possible, and try to remember not to leave the water running when we're brushing our teeth.

Being green has become incredibly trendy. There are entire magazines, newsletters and blogs devoted to "green living." One website I perused had everything from the practical ("Buy Organic on a Budget") to the trivial ("The 7 Greenest Celebrities") to the bizarre ("10 Weird Uses for Vodka").

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