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April 22, 2013

In Our Opinion: Earth Day a time for reflection

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The Daily Star

---- — A version of this editorial appeared last year. We run it again this year to recognize Earth Day.

Today is Earth Day — a day when all are encouraged to appreciate nature, learn about environmental issues and reflect on how we can participate in global stewardship.

Founded by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson in 1970, Earth Day is considered the genesis of many contemporary environmental movements in America. Although some might prefer to credit Al Gore with spawning our present level of environmental awareness, others might say that a populace concerned about the environment deserves recognition.

Marking its 43nd anniversary in 2013, Earth Day spans the globe, observed annually in almost 200 countries. Many Earth Day celebrations have expanded to include weeklong eco-themed events and activities, or events throughout April.

It’s not a federal holiday, so no one gets the day off of work or school, and banks will remain open. Thus, not everyone partakes in Earth Day activities. But if nothing else, Earth Day provides the media a convenient hook. So expect a surge on environmental issues on television.

Not that we are raising the alarmist flag, but it can’t be denied that as a species, we’ve done a pretty good job of cluttering up the planet.

Since Earth Day’s inception, environmental issues have gradually worked their way into our collective consciousness. Companies from Dow Chemical to Exxon try to paint themselves “green,” and citizens from all walks of life are busy talking about the environmental challenges we must overcome.

Many positive changes have taken place since 1970. The creation of widespread recycling programs; the international cooperation to ban CFCs and rectify human-caused damage to the Earth’s ozone layer; and technological innovations that have emerged in response to the reality of fossil fuels being finite resources are just a few of these.

On the local level, we can applaud organizations such as the Otsego County Conservation Association, which strives to protect the upper Susquehanna River watershed. We also applaud the success of the Delaware County Solid Waste Facility’s composting efforts, reduction of waste flow and recapture of gas emissions.

We can’t hope to solve big issues, like where we get our energy from, in a single day. But we can make small changes, such as replacing an incandescent light bulb with a light-emitting diode, or LED, bulb.

So whether you choose to participate in Earth Day or just sit home and read a thematically appropriate editorial, spring is always a good time to reflect and discuss the planet’s natural beauty.

Attention propagates discussion. Discussion engenders a more-informed public. And that eventually begets action.