Friday, April 21, 2006

Earth Day

My gosh, it's Earth Day again. I remember the first Earth Day in 1970, mostly because it was a good excuse to cut school and go run around outside. One of my more activist-oriented friends tried to organize a group to go pick up trash along the river, but that business was too filthy and too much like work for the majority of the Earth Day cultists, who mostly wanted to be seen publicly Caring About The Earth and demanding that The Government Should Do Something. Even today, that particular bit of the memory collage makes me think of Matthew 6.1: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them..."

Still, before you dismiss Earth Day as being part and parcel of the same moronic tree-hugging movement that spawned "Captain Planet," or before you give in to that urge to rev up your H2 and plow into the next mob of misanthropic marching Gaiaists you see, know this: it was needed.

I remember what it was like when cities and factories dumped their effluent straight into the skies and waters. I remember when you couldn't see a mile in the daytime in Los Angeles because the air was so thick with smog that your eyes burned. I remember being in harbors that looked and smelled like truck-stop toilets that hadn't been flushed or cleaned in a week, because municipalities dumped raw sewage straight into the local rivers. I remember not needing a compass to navigate in the daytime: you could be twenty miles offshore and still fix your location just by spotting the plumes of smoke from the coal-fired power plants.

I remember years when the beaches were closed all summer long because of water pollution. I remember when the center of Lake Erie was a biological dead zone and rivers in Ohio were so polluted they sometimes caught fire. I remember being out in deep water and coming across rafts of dead fish that some caprice of the wind and waves had pushed together. Try to imagine that: a ribbon of dead fish, so thick it almost looked as if you could walk on it, 50 yards wide and three miles long. Try to imagine the smell...

No, bad idea, don't do that; at least not before breakfast.

But know this: sure, the EPA is an agency out of control, the Endangered Species Act has been interpreted way too broadly, and Earth Day has become an occasion for tree-hugging morons to express their deep hatred for we hairless primates who occupy a somewhat prominent place in the global ecology. Sure, the behavior of the Gaiaists in our schools approaches the establishment of an official government religion. Sure, the whole idea of putting those corrupt clowns at the UN in charge of protecting the global biosphere scares the bejeebers out of me.

But there was a time when Earth Day was desperately needed, and the movement that it spawned has done some wonderful things. So I'm thinking that we need now to reclaim Earth Day, and make it a celebration of all the ecological good that has been accomplished in the past 36 years.

I'm thinking free-range buffalo steaks on the grill tonight sounds just about right...