Earth Day—One Planet, One Earth, One Home

April 22nd, 2010 by Gary Konkol

Passive House in the Woods, oak leaves
Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  So much has been done by environmental pioneers Rachel Carson, Jacques Cousteau, Wisconsin’s own United States Senator and Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson and others; but much remains to be done.  Our visible pollution has been greatly reduced, but the less visible greenhouse gases, endocrine disruptors, pesticides and herbicides remain.

How small our planet has become was made evident to me by a volcano erupting in Iceland.  A “rush” air freight order of the ventilation system for Hudson’s PHitW from Germany, is no longer the certainty it was two weeks ago.

Smoke stack exhaust from a coal fired electric plant in the Ohio Valley deposits mercury in the lakes and therefore fish I catch in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota.  Minnesota’s Department of Health recommends limited consumption of these wilderness fish for health reasons.

Our world is too small to continue to treat it like a waste receptacle.

We can do better.

We must do better.

Despite overwhelming evidence, some believe the world’s climate is not warming, but undergoing “normal” variation.

The Arctic ice cover is melting.  Wildfires burn out of control.  Ancient trees are dying.  Storms grow more violent.  Deserts spread.  Clean water gets scarce.  Farmland turns to dust.  Worldwide, March 2010 is the warmest month of March in the recorded history of the planet.

Even the Shell Oil company states on its website:  ” The scientific evidence is now overwhelming, climate change is a serious global threat, one that demands an urgent worldwide response “.

The ecology of carbon was disrupted by the burning of fossil fuels over the last two hundred years.  The genie is out of the bottle or in other words, the carbon is out of the ground.  Our planet’s homeostasis is disturbed, change is now inevitable.

Some believe that it is too late to alter this warming trend and the anticipated problems it will create.  I disagree.  I believe we all want a healthy environment in a healthy planet with healthy people.  We just don’t agree on how to get there.

We are in an environmental crisis.  Crisis is represented by two symbols in the Chinese language.  One symbol represents DANGER, the other OPPORTUNITY.  Thirty years ago we had an acid rain crisis.  We resolved that problem with a cap and trade solution.

I believe that global warming is our crisis or Dangerous Opportunity of today, one we must not fail to resolve.  A carbon neutral house is a step in the right direction.


Gary Konkol