Earth Day

This isn’t my usual WIP today. It’s part recollection and part a paean to our planet. We live here, we need to protect it to protect ourselves. The first Earth Day came during the first quarter of the first year of college for me. Yes, a long time ago–I’m that old. Perhaps the ecology movement that started in 1970 is now a part of the curriculum that millennials and their immediate elders study. Still, it seems clear enough that it’s something that has received scarce media attention for some time. It’s been eclipsed by the related subject of climate change in political discussion and on the news in the traditional media and all rest that didn’t exist nearly 50 years ago.  But this year’s celebration, that isn’t any decade anniversary, will likely be the largest since its first–if not the largest ever. You don’t need me to explain why.

We share the environment with all the creatures great and small. The plants, the trees, the rocks and all. We exhale carbon dioxide, the trees and other plants inhale it and give us back the oxygen we require.

There is no more and no less water on our planet than at its creation–absent a few additions or displacements due to meteor strikes or atmospheric leakage of water vapor at the upper reaches. In perhaps a ratio akin to that of homeopathic medicine you could say we’re all drinking dinosaur urine. Odd flavors from water wells in Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas might confirm that, but not too likely. More likely odd flavors might come from fracking for oil shale or mining. The earth filters the contaminants we bury or pour into it–as much as it can.

But we need to be more respectful and considerate of our home. It’s the only one we have. Despoil it and we may share the fate of those dinosaurs. Overuse fossil fuels and we may become fossils ourselves sooner than we think.

We live high atop a hill in New Mexico. We have no air conditioner and no furnace. We do have ceiling fans and baseboard heaters–neither of which see much use. Passive solar south-facing windows add winter warmth. Casement windows on three sides offer wing-like capture of breezes that blow through during the warm summer. We have grid-tied active solar panels that sometimes produce a check from the power company and otherwise reduce the load we impose on the system. Our well uses a solar pump. Our electric fence that keeps the cattle (two weeks of grazing per year) away from the house is solar-powered. Our gate that keeps unwanted sightseeing (or prospective burglars) human visitors away is solar-powered. Our wetlands take care of wastewater. Soon, rainwater harvesting will supplement our well. So we do our part to reduce power generation requirements and we recycle all that we can–close to a 50-50 split with trash. We’d do more if the locality offered more.

I hope you participated in Earth Day some way yesterday and throughout the year in a way appropriate to your circumstances.

3 thoughts on “Earth Day

  1. Wow, amazing tribute to this important day, and I wasn’t aware how green you are my friend. I’m impressed! The world could take a page from your living.
    I will tell you something that surprised me while in Arizona, perhaps just my neck of the woods, I don’t know. But, all the trash went into one bin, something I’m not used to seeing or doing. Where I live in Toronto, for years, we have 3 different types of trash – regular garbage, recyclable, and compost. We have these bins set up in our condo building even, not just homes. I was quite impressed to find this. But back to Arizona in a lovely condo in Scottsdale, one bin. I called the owner when we first stayed there and asked her what we were to do with recyclable things such as glass and plastic bottles, and was told everything gets thrown in one dumpster out back. I was quite shocked to learn that considering I find Scottsdale a rather green state. 🙂

    1. With all the sun here, there’s no excuse to not be green! Besides, living several miles out of the city, we have no option for natural gas, only delivered propane–which is expensive. So with an all electric home, we do all the solar we can. We also use LED and CFL lights–no incandescent, as well as high-efficiency appliances.

      Recycling, like politics, is all local. Recently, much of the Southwest abandoned recycling glass–apparently including western Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. It is a costly hassle keeping the three main colors of glass separate for recycling by melting down. Can’t mix the colors in the melt. So what has been done in recent years is to break the glass purposely for addition to roadway/highway aggregate. It’s unclear to me why that no longer is a good option. It makes the road surface last longer and obviously reduces the amount of petroleum products needed. But then with the drop in oil prices and more oil available now from shale in the massive Permian Basin of west Texas, that may explain it.

      1. Thank you for this excellent view into the green system of the southwest. Sometimes new isn’t always best. 🙂 And you my friend are a shining example of all things good for the environment, and the soul! 😉

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