Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On This Almost Earth Day

On this almost Earth Day I sit inside (10:00 am) and not on the patio as the ozone level has already climbed over 50.

and food for thought from The New Yorker, In the Air.

In a recent survey, the Pew Research Center asked Americans about their priorities for Congress and the new President. “Dealing with global warming” ranked at the bottom of a list of twenty choices, far below “strengthening the nation’s economy” and “reducing health-care costs,” and even below dealing with unspecified “global trade issues.” The recession seems to have dampened the nation’s enthusiasm for any measure that could affect—or, perhaps just as important, be portrayed as affecting—people’s pocketbooks. Last month, when Gallup asked Americans whether “protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth,” only forty-two per cent said yes. This was the lowest proportion in the twenty-five years since the firm started asking the question. Results like these do not make action on climate change any less imperative. But—especially since opponents can be counted on to spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying—they do make it that much less likely.
This week, when Earth Day turns thirty-nine, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation will plant trees. The Interior Department will host a fair in Washington’s Rawlins Park, and in Bloomington volunteers will teach sixth graders about karsts and creeks. As perhaps befits a middle-aged celebration, these are all eminently reasonable activities. But Earth Day has lost its edge and, with that, the sense that a different world is possible. Even more than in 1970, what’s needed now is an outpouring that organizes itself—with millions of people and, for good measure, some stinky dead fish in the streets.

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