Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day: Just A Token Ritual?

Are occasions such as Earth Day really necessary for people to show support for the environment? . After all, what good is it for the world to give lip service respect to nature one day out of the year and then trash it the rest of the time?

To be sure, the intent that led to the beginning of this celebration as an annual affair was honorable, even noble.  But as I look around and read about the ongoing degradation of our planet on both an individual and institutional basis, I feel that this day has become meaningless. 

For the same reason, last month my wife and I did not bother to shut off our electrical usage in observance of Earth Hour (Come to think of it, the only "light" that was on anyway was our television). Why should we?  When it comes to conservation, we walk the talk daily. So for those who like us live a modest life style there's no need to guild the lily with a symbolic gesture. 

If advocates of Earth Day really care about nature and the environment there are so many ways to express this concern, and to rehash them here item by item is unnecessary.  Suffice to say that using common sense and prudence in daily living and refraining from materialistic overindulgence are a start. (As for the various festivals that will mark Earth Day, I wonder how many people will drive to these events in  SUV's and leave a mountain of litter behind when they depart.)

The key to making a better world of course is action.   Those individuals who are self- motivated to make an effort to improve their surroundings know in their hearts why doing so is vital, and not just once a year at that.. It is people such as these who are likely already making a contribution to the world  and who make everyday "Earth Day".

I suppose that the argument can be made that Earth Day as a consciousness raising occasion can inculcate these very values in others, especially the uncommitted.  However, it seems to me that unless a sense of concern about the planet is already a part of one's character,  then special days that focus on the future of our planet won't begin to make a bit of difference to people whose world begins and ends only with themselves.