The Park Record editorial, April 22, 2009 |

The Park Record editorial, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009: a confluence of conservation

Today’s commemoration of Earth Day has a new urgency. Governments around the world are finally acknowledging what scientists have been saying for the last decade — that our natural resources are finite, that health risks can be directly linked to pollution, and that global warming is a real and imminent threat.

But today’s green movement has some additional allies: political turmoil in the Middle East and the recession.

Previously, calls for cars that achieved higher gas mileage were stonewalled by automakers. Fueled by a strong economy, Americans bought bigger, more powerful cars, despite feeble admonishments from environmentalists about air pollution and destruction of the ozone. Then, when foreign carmakers started filling the void with compact models, the enviros who drove them were accused of being somewhat unAmerican.

Today, though, patriots are calling for reduced dependence on foreign oil through more efficient vehicles and alternative fuels. Now, energy conservation is not only good for the environment, it is also politically correct. Those who drive hybrid and natural gas vehicles can hold their heads high. They are doing it for the good of their country.

There is a similar shift in citizens’ attitudes about recycling, resource conservation and buying locally grown products. Once considered fringe behavior, recycling is a necessity among those hard hit by the economic downturn. Overconsumption and wastefulness are not only bad for the environment, they are also becoming synonymous with all of the excesses — like bloated home values, hedge funds and market speculation — that drove America’s prospering economy over the cliff.

So this Earth Day as Parkites re-evaluate their relationship with the land, those who are concerned about the environment have new cause for optimism. The bandwagon is getting crowded.

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