Rant follows. You’ve been warned.
So today’s when we are supposed to feel bad about using plastic and having opposable thumbs, or something.
I’m a conservationist. I believe in wise use of resources in order to benefit the most people over the longest time possible, based on the best knowledge that we currently have. I also heartily agree that we need green-spaces, places like parks, nature preserves, and well-managed habitats for wildlife of all kinds. We are stewards of this world, and we don’t always do as good of a job as we could, but we’re learning.
I don’t believe that people are the sole cause of all ills besetting this planet. The climate has been shifting and changing since long before the Age of Mammals. Ask the animals found under ash in South America about rapid environmental change. You’ll need Madame Clio or one of her associates, because apparently the critters had time to look up and think, “Huh, what’s that?” before a pyroclastic flow caught them and sent them to the Great Pasture in the Sky. And we’re all familiar with the K-T Boundary and the dinosaurs’ epic bad day.
I’m being a little flippant, and my tongue is firmly in cheek, but the point is that humans are not the sole cause of unhappy events. Volcanoes produce a lot more sulfur dioxide and other green house emissions than do the “dark, Satanic mills” of the industrial world. Now, China and the Third World? *wags paw* That’s a little different, but even then one Mt. Pinatubo easily trumps China in terms of noxious emissions. And solar cycles have a lot more to do with global climate than do cars and urban heat islands, once you look past weekly and monthly weather records. American Indians (and others) used fire to shape their surroundings, and were largely responsible for the extent of the tall-grass-prairies that the pioneers found.
Nor are humans the only animals who shape their environment to their own tastes. Beavers are some of the most efficient hydrological manipulators known. They build dams, create ponds, change local ecosystems, affect ground-water, and deforest. Elephants and other grazers and browsers can cause alterations in species compositions and forest-prairie-savannah shifts. One reason certain areas of the eastern US were grassland when the Europeans arrived was the explosion of the bison population following the decline of their next-to-top predator in the early 1500s.
Do we need to do better? Yes. We have the technology to tidy up things. We also need to shift to more nuclear power, which will lower the cost of electricity in a lot of places, and ease the demand for coal. (And we can stop wasting natural gas burning it to make steam to make electricity.) Wind turbines are a fad, and while wind-chargers do make a lot of sense, we’re going to discover in a few years that disposing of dead wind-turbines will require new recycling techniques. We can do better with water conservation as well, but you know my feelings about people who insist on growing blue-grass* where Nature planted buffalo grass and desert grasses.
So for Earth Day, I recommend using common sense, not wasting things, but not wallowing in guilt either. We are stewards, not museum curators, in my opinion.
*Yes, I have a fescue lawn. Yes, it is a cool-season grass. Yes, I cut it “long” in summer to shade the roots and use less water. MomRed wants a greenish lawn all year around, and buffalo grass won’t cooperate. MomRed also insists on being able to see over the lawn, so big bluestem and Indian grass** got vetoed.
**They grow to six feet/ two meters tall.
Edited to add: Welcome, Instapundit readers! If you are interested in environmental history and western landscapes, or hydrology, you might want to poke around in my archives.