Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

What a week for hippies! First was 4/20 aka 420. This was the day that celebrated everything marijuana. Now on 4/22, we have Earth Day. In 1970, Earth Day began. Now throughout the world this day is synonymous with celebrating the “Green” Earth. Environmentally speaking, we have come a long way since 1970. We have worked hard to better our environment. But today makes me ponder where we still need help.

Everywhere I look I see…

One thing bothers me though and that is Petroleum Oil. Without oil, we probably would have not  advanced technologically. We would not be driving internal combustion engines. We would not have many of the plastic products that make our life easier. As I sit at my computer, I sit on a plastic coated chair with a foam plastic cushion. This keyboard is infused with plastic on the keys and covers all of the mechanisms in it. The mouse, computer, computer speakers, monitor, pen, telephone, and re-usable travel mug at my desk all are made up with plastic. Plastic is in or on everything we touch. 

But what impact does all this have on the environment? We probably would not need or have Earth Day if it was not for our dependency of oil. The oil and plastics that are made from the oil are causing many of the major environmental problems that we have to deal with. It is well documented about the internal combustion impact to the environment so I will forego that discussion. But since plastics are everywhere, they are constantly being discarded. The problem with that is plastics do not biodegrade; it photo degrades. Plastics just degrade into smaller and smaller pieces. Our vast oceans are actually being overrun with microscopic plastic.

Yes we always talk about limiting greenhouse gas emission. We require our car manufacturers to build more efficient cars. But what about plastics? Sure most of us recycle. We throw that water bottle in the recycling container and do our part to help the earth. But what about the stuff that we cannot or do not recycle? 

I am doing my part by recycling, but…..

For example, if you look at the medical field, it is laden with one-time plastic use. Everything that is sterilized is sealed into a plastic wrapping. If you need an intravenous medication, the bag is plastic along with the tube going to your arm. Because of contaminants, the majority of these plastics cannot be recycled. Extensive plastic use is not limited to the medical field, but this just shows how entrenched plastic is everywhere. 

Plastics are wrecking havoc throughout our world. Unfortunately, I do not see any current alternatives to replace plastics anytime soon. We are working on building an alternative fuel vehicle; we should also be investing in plastic alternatives. I am sure some scientists are working on this solution somewhere, but it is not being publicized. Maybe we should be bringing this to the forefront as well. Someday, I am sure in my lifetime, oil will no longer be a viable product so shouldn’t we be looking into alternatives for all its uses?

Yes, today is Earth Day….

This is the day to look at Mother Earth and take inventory of our impact on it. I am not a Tree-hugging Hippy (However that free love stuff sounded fun!) but I think we can learn some lessons about us this day. Like Tree-huggers before us, let's go with this mantra for the day and beyond: "Think globally and act locally". If it has an impact on our environment, let us think twice before we do anymore damage to it. Hippies enjoy your week because unfortunately next week these issues will be out of sight, out of mind to most of us! 

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