Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day 2008

Tomorrow is the 38th Earth Day. That's one day a year set aside to think about how what we do affects the planet that we live on.

I'll commemorate Earth Day by not using my car at all. This is a mostly symbolic gesture for me. I travel so much for my day job that I spend a lot of time driving back and forth to the airport and flying around, so I have a bigger carbon footprint than most people. But I do try to have at least one car-free day a week. I'm lucky to be able to have the option because I can walk or bike or conveniently take the bus to practically everything I need, including my job, the supermarket, and City Hall.

Earth Day has had meaning for me since it began back in 1970. I was a ninth-grader in a small city in Upstate New York, and I was part of a group called "Growing Americans Stopping Pollution" (GASP). We spent earth day cleaning litter out of our local riverbed. Almost 40 years later, and we are still trying to figure out how to keep our riverbeds -- and our planet -- clean enough for us to survive. (Though on Saturday morning, 450 people turned out for Earth Day beach cleanup and picked up an enormous amount of trash!) It does seem to me that the issue of climate change has created a "special moment" in our environmental awareness similar to the one that gave birth to the original Earthy Day.

I won't go on at great length about what we at the City are doing or what we as a community are doing on the environment. Suffice it to say that every day should be Earth Day; every technology should be a green technology; and every job should be a green job. But the job of protecting the environment -- on top of everything else we have to do at City Hall -- is sometimes really overwhelming. For example, climate change is sure to be on of our biggest issues here in Ventura in the years ahead. We are a beach town in between two rivers, and a rising sea level will have enormous consequences. But in the rush of daily business, neither I nor anyone else has had the time or energy (to say nothing of the money!) to begin dealing with the question. All I can promise to you is that I'll work harder on that one in the months and years ahead.

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