Earth Day? Again?

Plastic is evil, people are a blight on the planet, we must reverse global warming, save the whales and baby seals, hug a tree, and so on and so forth.

I’m a conservationist, not an environmentalist.

Earth Day is, in my opinion, a pointless exercise in guilt-mongering that does nothing to improve the quality of the physical environment or to advance conservation. It began as part of the environmental branch of the civil rights movement, inspired in part by Silent Spring. The first one was on the Vernal Equinox in 1970 and featured a teach-in. The idea was picked up, moved to April 22 (which coincides with V. L. Lenin’s birthday, interestingly enough) and became an official “day of doing something.” One of the more colorful characters involved with the first Earth Day was Ira Einhorn, an activist who claimed to have been one of the founders, but who was more of a master of ceremonies for one of the local events. He also murdered his girlfriend.

I do my best to ignore Earth Day. This year’s theme is getting rid of plastic pollution. I’m all for that. I’m not fond of seeing plastic bags in strange places, or finding bottles that missed the nearby garbage bin. OTOH someone will trot out the garbage island in the Pacific (which doesn’t exist), the micro-beads (which don’t exist) and photos of critters strangling on six-pack rings. I’d rather see people forming groups to go pick-up litter and trash in parks and other places, and planting native trees and flowers, and doing stuff that actually makes the place cleaner and nicer for everyone.

I’m a conservationist. I believe in making the best use of something, for as long as possible, in ways that benefit the most people. That can include renewable forestry, nuclear power, mining, setting aside areas as national and state parks, encouraging wildlife habitat restoration, putting up bee and bat boxes, using less water for some things and using water properly for others. It doesn’t mean impoverishing people for the sake of plants and animals, or driving people off their farms and out of their communities “to preserve the environment” or to plant trees for carbon credits. I’m all for nature parks where people can actually, you know, go see nature. Not fenced and walled off “pristine” areas restricted to scientists and big donors. I’m cool with a conservation easement. I’m not cool with conservation easements so large that they almost bankrupt counties by removing large swaths of the tax base.

Instead of Earth Day, learn about what is native to your region and plant some. Catch rainwater and use it to water your plants if you can. Grow your grass longer and use a mulching mower. Hang up a bee box for native bees. Help tidy a local park. Put out a bird feeder and bird bath. Plant flowers that butterflies like. Buy things that last and use them well. That’s how we can “save the Earth.”

27 thoughts on “Earth Day? Again?

  1. Growing my grass longer… I can claim that I’m being a conservationist, not a sick and exhausted person who hasn’t gotten to that?

    More seriously, we got a mulching mower (it has a bag option, but we don’t use it) because when we bought the house, the prior owner’s dog had worn large bare spots and trails across most of the back yard. I had plenty of other things to deal with, so took the slow-growth option: mulch the grass, let the clippings cover the bare spots, and with the mulch preserving moisture and adding nutrients, eventually the grass will reclaim the ground on its own. It’s worked everywhere except under the mulberry tree so far, and even that is slowly filling in, year on year. (I’m not sure if it’s the shade, the mulberry, or the sheer level of bird poop on the ground burning out seedlings and runners.)

    The more I use the mulching mower, the more the ground underfoot gets soft and springy, instead of hard-packed red dirt with scraggling grass and thorny things. What’s not to love?

    • And you won’t need to fertilize nearly as much. If you look at the trees at RedQuarters, you won’t see roots. If you look elsewhere, you see roots, because the trees have “eaten” so much of the soil. Mulch-mowing, mowing less often, and occasionally fertilizing have done wonders over the years. We’ve also top-dressed a few times, scattering good top-soil here and there where and when needed.

      Mowing longer also means the grasses’ roots are shaded and they lose less water. Excellent in mid-summer, when cool season grasses almost stop growing, so you don’t really need to mow anyway.

    • Amen to that, sister!

      Although I tend to let my grass grow long and then cut it short. . . so I don’t have to mow as often. Which I’ve found a mulcher is actually counter productive for, it causes the grass to grow thicker and with thicker grass and the mulch you can no longer cut it real short on the first hot day and have the sun burn it so you don’t have to mow the rest of the summer. So using a mulcher has actually made me have to mow more. On the other hand I don’t have to rake grass so I still consider it a win.

  2. Whenever the subject of National Parks comes up I think of Theodore Roosevelt who started the whole thing. He was a conservationist, avid hunter, and nature lover. I have little doubt he would be aghast at what the National Park system has become. One of his favorite areas to hunt was what became Yellowstone National Park. He later created the Park to preserve a rather special area for future generations. Note the last three words there “for future generations” somehow they have been dropped off the agenda of todays National Park supporters. They simply want to preserve, the have no interest in allowing anyone to enjoy them.

    • Theodore Roosevelt neither created the first national parks, nor created the national park service. The first one, Yellowstone, was created by Ulysses Grant (and Congress) upon the recommendation of Phillip Sheridan. Three others, Sequoia, Yosemite, and Mount Ranier, were also created before Theodore Roosevelt became president. He did sign bills establishing Crater Lake, Wind Cave, and Mesa Verde while in office. The other fifty-three national parks were created later. That’s only slightly more than recent presidents (Reagan 2, Bush I 1, Clinton 5, Bush II 2, Obama 1, Trump 1).

      Woodrow Wilson signed the bill establishing the National Park Service in 1916, prior to which various parks had either been protected and maintained by Army troops on assignment or by superintendents and staff hired by the Department of the Interior. OTOH, Theodore Roosevelt did establish the National Wildlife Refuge system, the Forest Service, set aside several Forest Reserves, sign into law the Antiquities Act, and then use the Antiquities Act to designate a bunch of National Monuments.

      • I could have sworn he created Yellowstone as well as Crater Lake and Mesa Verde (I was unaware of Wind Cave, and in fact have no idea where it is) that’ll teach me to type off a post while eating breakfast without checking my facts. Crow doesn’t go all that well with french toast.

        Rereading my post I can see it does appear that I said he created the national park system, wasn’t what I meant, although it is what I typed. 😦 What I meant to type was that he created Yellowstone, which is also wrong as you pointed out. 😦

        He was a big boost to the conservation movement, unfortunately almost everything he started in view of conservation, The National Wildlife Refuge system, Forest Service, National Monuments, etc. has been since coopted by the environmentalist movement. Rather than sustainable use, they prefer no use.

        • The Forest Service is Roosevelt’s, and he strongly encouraged the development of National Parks and State Parks, as well as wise use of the forests. So it’s easy to give him credit for what happened before his tenure, especially since we associate him with the American West.

          • Yes, it’s not like TR did nothing, he was definitely a significant force in conservation. But often tales of the history of America’s national parks elide over all that came before TR, mention FDR in hushed, reverent tones, then gush over the 60’s era shift toward preserving wilderness vs. encouraging visitation and making it more convenient. Maybe they make brief mention of Woodrow Wilson and the founding of the National Park Service. But there’s so much more to it than that. At least the Ken Burns documentary covered the high points a lot better than that.

            Typically left unmentioned, or at least undetailed, is the involvement of the US Army in the founding of Yosemite, and their decades-long operations in many of the parks, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. They built bridges and trails and other infrastructure, patrolled the parks for the safety of visitors, and for the suppression of poachers.

            Few mention the key role of Iowa congressman John Lacey, who was responsible for several key conservation laws, including most prominently, the Antiquities Act. That act cost him reelection in 1906 – his constituents felt he was concentrating too little on their concerns and too much on conservation. But it was that act that allowed TR to create the national monuments. (Personally, I believe it could use a few constraints added on the size and number of monuments a president can create in any year – beyond the Wyoming exclusion added in the Grand Teton National Park act of 1950 – but that it is whole topic in and of itself.)

            Ok, I think I may have reached the rant and rave point here, so I’ll just shut up now.

            • The history of how parks got made, preserved, enhanced or not, and grew/shrank/disappeared is fascinating, but can get really, really tedious if you wade into the federal minutia. I always get a kick out of Everglades being the first flat park.

            • Let me try this with the proper handle… It was Abraham Lincoln who did the first set-aside (The Yosemite Grant) for the valley in 1864. TR added more areas, but the place was a going concern in the late 1800s.

            • Yosemite was a grant to the state of California initially, and didn’t get returned to the federal government for inclusion in Yosemite National Park until the 1890’s, IIRC. The hot springs at what is now Hot Springs National Park were set as aside as a federal reservation in the early 19th century, to protect them for continuing public use rather than allowing their destruction or monopolization. But Yellowstone was the first actual national park, set aside by Congress as a park, and named as such.

        • I checked the Wikis, and my memory was right. (Hey, it happens. Occasionally.) The Yosemite Grant (setting aside Yosemite valley from development) was authorized by president Abraham Lincoln. Looks like TR put more parts of the area (Mariposa grove, among others) under Park juristiction.

  3. Gerard Vanderleun: “Once upon a time we knew enough to curse the darkness. In the aeons long climb from the muck, we have only had the ability to hold back the dark for a bit over a century. Now millions yearn to embrace it and, should they yearn long enough and hard enough, the darkness will embrace them and hold them for much longer than a brief hour of preening and self-regard.

    The Big Picture at the Boston Globe site routinely publishes stunning photographs of what is taking place in the world. But at editor Alan Taylor’s whim after last year’s “Earth Hour”, it went a step further in “celebrating” the rise of mass insanity in our age. “Earth Hour 2009”presents a round-the-world tour of cities with each picture designed to fade from light into darkness at the click of a mouse. Proud of his clever variation on a theme, the editor’s instructions were — without a hint of irony:

    “[click image to see it fade]”

    Of course with a second mouse click the lights came back on. It never seems to occur to the people with the Green Disease, that is perfectly possible to

    [click civilization to see it fade]

    and get no second click.”

    Powering Down:

  4. If they REALLY want to do something, go adopt a section of highway, and pick it up every quarter. We’ve done that for years with various Masonic lodges. If old farts in their 70s can get out and pick up trash, these young protesters should be able to with a LOT less pain than we had at the end of the day!

  5. Compassion inflation”?

    Earth Hour morphed into “Earth Day”.

    Just another political contrivance from the professional “concerned citizens”.

  6. My cousin for years had a favorite shirt (he owned several identical ones, when one would start to wear out he would get another one) it was a t-shirt that proudly proclaimed, “Every day is Earth day!”

    To get the full effect you have to realize that he was one of those people who never held a single job for too long but was a hard worker who could always have a job whenever he wanted one, somebody was always willing to hire him. And his “career” bounced between logger, construction worker, and heavy equipment operator. So he would wear said t-shirt to work regularly, with his dirty rigging pants hacked off at mid-calf and suspenders.

  7. Earth Day, environmentalism, AGW, etc, are all attacks on private property, liberty and the free market. The entire movement is a fraud, with an agenda of political power over other people’s lives and property.

    • Anthony Watts at WUWT noted that the eco-convention in the SF Bay area had more panels on the wonders of Marxism than he’s seen before. Can I borrow Sarah’s shocked face?

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