Welcome to Earth Day… roll up your sleeves and get to work

So here we are, another Earth Day, another opportunity to get out and get dirty planting trees etc. If you expect me to say how special you are, forget it. The readers of this blog are not the average person who is tuned out to these issues. I’m talking to you, the folks who get this and come here to read this. While I’m all for doing something positive for the planet, the facts on the ground are not going in the right direction. There are positive things to report in specific locales where concerned local citizens have spent years working to solve problems. Chimacum Creek, Elwha, Dungeness, all improving. As to Puget Sound? Not according to the Puget Sound Partnership annual reporting. Orca numbers are down. There is a freak virus destroying all our sea stars. And ocean acidification isn’t waiting for another Blue Ribbon Panel in a few years. Political will? All in the talk, virtually none in the action, they throw us bones, barely enough to do much of anything, and that’s with another Democratic governor, a Democratic president and lots of Dems at all levels. Canada continues it’s spiraling down into the poster child of bad environmental policy, including Victoria’s ongoing reticence to spend money to stop spewing their untreated sewage into the Strait, and their Federal Government allowing oil drilling in National Parks. Places in Alberta resemble the northern version of the Niger Delta. All for oil. It shows what happens when you get a single political party and an electorate that is asleep. Don’t even get me started about China, India, and all the other places that are so far behind us that they make us look like saints. None of the current status quo there is going to turn things around. It has to stop. There has to be another way.

So what should you do? If you aren’t directly involved in something that is changing the planet for the better, then you need to do more. And I don’t mean turning off the lights when you leave a room or driving less. This is about getting out and telling your elected officials that the status quo won’t work. You expect more and now. If you like being part of politics then have at it, but be aware that the minute you do you will likely be marginalized. You won’t be able to criticize them because they are giving you the scraps. You might make minor shifts in direction of the government. Get a few small tasks done. If you are a Republican, you need to sit down with your legislators and  find out what it will take to get them to support environmental legislation. If you are a Democrat, you need to tell your legisators that simply blaming the R’s for inaction is unacceptable. As Billie Frank Jr. so aptly said after returning from Washington D.C. a couple of years ago, “No one is in charge back there. You are in charge right here.”

We need more people to shake up the status quo. More people willing to get the message out, loud and clear. Climb towers and put banners on them. Educate people to the issues. Make political hay.  Fund some law suits that have the right targets. Force change. The answer is not drilling more. Or building more pipelines. Or nuclear plants. Or coal trains. It’s about really changing the dynamic. I don’t know what it will look like, but it will emerge and become clearer as it happens, as all true major changes do. A program, perhaps like the Space program, geared at saving our air or water supplies. Maybe a challenge to put solar on all homes south of the Mason Dixon line by 2030. Do you have a few million to invest? Then put it to work at the grassroots of this movement. Don’t give it to politicians. They don’t produce anything but hot air. If you have nothing to invest then make a few phone calls and find out what you can do with a local organization to change things now. Get out from behind the computer and become part of something locally that is making it happen.

The politicians we have elected are not doing the job. I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans. After this last legislative session in Olympia, it seems clear that they  take our votes for granted. In the lead up to Earthday the governor hires a coal lobbyist for policy. The head of DNR rails against “anti-logging” forces. You need to change this. Now. You need to tell them you won’t fund them anymore without  seeing real change. Let them explain what they have accomplished. It’s time you stop putting up with their excuses.

You are the change. It won’t happen without you. And frankly, there are no sure things even if you do. Go plant a few trees if you want to, but don’t pretend that’s going to help the big picture. Earth Day is not today, it’s every day.

Time is of the essence.

See you in the front lines.

Happy Earth Day.


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