Archived Outdoors

Earth Day rant

out natcornEarth Day 2013 is Monday, April 22. The first official “Earth Day” occurred in 1970 and environmentalists celebrated. Environmental lawyer Chuck Dayton, who splits his time between Waynesville and the “Land of a Thousand Lakes,” pretty much summed up where we are at Earth Day, when he wrote about the 40th anniversary:

“The first Earth Day was a dramatic expression of a growing awareness that corporations had been using our air and water as a free dump, and something needed to be done.

It occurred at a time of anti-war protests and anti-establishment rhetoric; a time when change seemed not only possible but also inevitable …. Today, Earth Day 40, while still an important affirmation of the need to care for the planet, seems to me less optimistic than in 1970. I no longer think that the big environmental problems will be solved in my lifetime. At nearly 71, I know that we are surely passing on huge burdens to our descendants, including those that may become impossible to solve, if climate feedbacks are allowed take over …”

Look at the two photos. The one with Maddie at the North Carolina Arboretum was taken last weekend (4/13) during the Mountain Science Expo, a day of programs and exhibits dedicated to the natural bounties of Western North Carolina and the people who work so hard to preserve and protect them. The other was one I searched the Internet for because just the day before the Expo, I had to go to Asheville and around Newfound Gap, looking east towards Asheville, all I could see was the gray ozone clinging to the mountainsides.

Someone told me recently they were so excited about spring finally arriving and described an area of the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway that was just “vibrant” green. I knew the area they were speaking of but didn’t have the heart to tell them that the green they were seeing was a “green death” for native biodiversity. Those roadsides are indeed thick and green with Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose — plants that choke native biodiversity and create deserts of non-native monoculture.

If there is a religion to be feared in the 21st century it is the religion of the “Holy Bottom Line.” I saw recently the cost (in 2006) to Duke Power of installing scrubbers (that would reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by around 95 percent.) That total was $425 million.

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Now Duke and many other industries pay lobbyists to go to D.C. and try and convince politicians that the EPA (the agency that required Duke to cut their sulfur dioxide emissions) is too onerous and that their regulations are suffocating industry.

Guess the “Church of the Bottom Line” believes suffocating the planet is a preferred alternative.

(Don Hendershot is a writer and naturalist. He can be reached a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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