Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Earth Day Every Day

Saturday last was Earth Day.  When first staged on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was a ‘teach-in’ to awaken the public to the sorry state of the environment. The event helped to galvanize support for the Environmental Protection Agency, which was created by Congress in December 1970.  As the years went by Earth Day became for many a ‘clean-up day’ intended to provide participants bragging rights to sprucing up the community.
Perhaps now more than ever, there is a need for Earth Day every day. 
For the first time since those first Earth Day events, we have a U.S. president for whom the environment is of little importance.  Trump has lived his life shuttling between the vantage points of the penthouse and the golf course, either of which could have taught him a great deal about the natural world.  Right out the window his gold-encrusted high-rise sanctuary on Fifth Avenue in New York he has an excellent view of the pristine Central Park with over 900 acres of trees, bushes and flowers and as many different species of birds, animals and reptiles that live there.  Of course, his Mar-a-Lago golf course has its own issues as rising ocean levels promise to bring all sorts of new marine activity to both the 'front and back nine'.
Unfortunately, Trump’s very fragile personality apparently keeps him busy preening for adoring audiences.  There may be little time in his day for learning about melting polar ice, polluted rivers and lakes, fouled drinking water, endangered, species and dwindling gene pools, any one of which threatens the future of humans.  Perhaps he had a bad experience with animals as a child or perhaps he just does not care about tomorrow and is only interested in the business that will add the next dollar to his billions. 
It is particularly frustrating when dealing with individuals in positions of great power who have so little understanding of the economic consequences of a deteriorating environment.  For example, trees serve as a natural carbon sink, absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it to the oxygen humans need to survive.  Trees prevent soil erosion, filter water and shield delicate skinned animals, such as humans, from the sun.  They play a role in the food chain, deliver building materials and provide landscaping.  It is clear from even this short list that trees have a significant economic value. 
View from Appalachian Trail under Emissions Haze
However, Trump wants to restore and rebuild the use of coal in this country, which means more air pollution that kills trees with far greater economic value.  For the sake of a few near-term dollars in the hands of a few coal companies and their shareholders, Trump would take an action that threatens the well being of the entire country.  This peculiar logic somehow passed for extraordinary business acumen on the campaign trail.  In the real world, the numbers do not add up.
As a consequence of Trump’s disinterest in the environment, it is not likely that any policy of importance will be initiated by the Executive Branch of government.  Indeed, his lack of understanding has already led to a reversal in progress made by previous U.S. administrations.  Approval of the Dakota and Keystone Pipelines and restoration of aerial hunting in Alaska wilderness are just two examples.
Appalachian Trail with Emissions Standards
Thus Congress and State legislatures are left holding the ball.  Additionally, private sector players may become even more important than ever.  For example, the Nature Conservancy is a charitable environmental organization devoted to preserving and building habitats for wild species.  The Environmental Defense Fund has far ranging interests in climate change, food supplies and public health.  The Climate Reality Project is devoted to climate change awareness and education.  There are dozens more.
Perhaps now more than ever, there is a need for Earth Day every day. 
There is a need to educate.  Indeed, a ‘teach in’ should be staged right in the Oval Office, if for no other purpose than to put its current occupant on notice that the progress made over the last few decades will not be bartered away for the sake of putting an extra dollar in the pockets of a select few.
There is a need to galvanize.  Realistic and sustainable solutions should be cultivated and promoted.  If all ears have gone deaf in Washington DC, then the argument must be made in the halls of state capitals.  State legislators and governors all across the country are smart about their own environment because they traverse it daily.  Several states have taken the lead in environmental solutions, such as California with emissions standards, Texas and wind power generation, and Massachusetts with landfill policies.  Any one of these states and others could be the standards against which the rest of the country can set their sights.
There is a need for every citizen to get involved.  Picking up trash provides first hand insight into the impact of plastics on plants and animals.  Tree planting projects instructs on removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere the impact of deforestation.  Of course, these projects actually deliver results besides lifting the conscience.  According to BugWorld at the University of Georgia, each year there are about 1.6 billion trees planted in the U.S.  Since its inception in 1991, the National River Clean-up alone has organized thousands of events across the U.S., covering more than 250,000 miles of waterways and removing more than 25 million pounds of litter and debris. 
Yes, Earth Day every day!

Neither the author of the Small Cap Strategist web log, Crystal Equity Research nor its affiliates have a beneficial interest in the companies mentioned herein.

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