FROM READERS: MU student shares her thoughts on Earth Day

Saturday, April 20, 2013 | 7:34 p.m. CDT

Sara Bryan is a senior in the Pre-Veterinary program at the University of Missouri.

It has been 43 years since a United States Senator from Wisconsin came up with the idea for Earth Day. Thousands of people took to the streets to voice their concern over the ravaging of our environment. That first Earth Day was like a spark to tinder, creating the environmental movement. The most notable byproduct of that day was the Environmental Protection Agency, which fights daily for our right to a safe and healthy environment.

Though I was not around for that inaugural celebration, it still resonates with me powerfully. I am a firm believer that we should be better stewards of this magnificent and beautiful planet on which we live. We should do all that we can to ensure that our children, and their children after them will be able to witness the wonders of sites like the plains and jungles of Africa and the amazing animals that live there. Along with poor land use, climate change has caused the desertification of once-lively habitats such as these. The idea that these wonders could be lost as a result of our direct destruction or its indirect effects saddens me.

But it's not just a matter of principle; it's a matter of survival. It has become abundantly apparent that our world is facing a climate crisis. It is no longer just a hypothetical event that we can put off to be dealt with in the future. Climate change is happening now, and it isn't going anywhere. We've already begun to see just how devastating the effects of climate change are - from tornadoes that tear through entire towns, to hurricanes with the power to flood vast stretches of coastline. These events don't just cost us millions and millions of dollars; they cost lives.

Climate change is impacting all of us, and the sad part is that it is all our fault. We caused it and it's our responsibility to decrease the damage as much as possible. Earth Day serves as an excellent reminder of that responsibility. Sure it's great if you make the effort to go out and plant a tree or clean up a stream. But what is really important is that you take the time to consider your behavior and how it impacts the world around you. Every little step that you take towards living a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle counts. So I will spend this April 22nd thinking about what I am currently doing to cut my carbon footprint and contemplating what else I can do. How about you?

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor Joy Mayer.

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Mark Foecking April 21, 2013 | 6:23 a.m.

Earth Day is one of those symbolic things that I really don't bother with anymore. It's a lot more about progressive politics and corporation bashing than actually doing anything meaningful about climate change or energy depletion.

Americans have to reduce their CO2 footprints by 95% to stabilize CO2 levels. Few people understand what that means in terms of living standard, and those groups that profit from things like Earth Day either don't know, or don't tell people, because it's too discouraging. Most people are not willing to give up their refrigerators and air conditioners, much less their cars. And without that, they might as well not do anything - reducing your CO2 footprint by 10-20% is meaningless. And most people, even those that profess concern, haven't even done that.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 21, 2013 | 7:22 a.m.

@ Mark Foecking:

Never were more true words (yours) spoken.

Also, and I've noted this before, if by some miracle - and it would definitely fall into that category - we WERE to instantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions levels to near zero, it could be YEARS, not weeks or months, before we'd see all the effects of doing that, due to the size of the system ( our earth's atmosphere) itself.

Puck ("A Midsummer Night's Dream") has it correct: "...what fools these mortals be!"

It must be nice to be technically ignorant: you aren't expected to solve any problems - just to sit around and whine about them.

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