Interviewer: So, how powerful are you? Could you ...say... destroy the Earth?
Tick: Destroy the Earth? Egad, I hope not! That's where I keep all my stuff!
- The Tick: The Animated Series
I grew up as something of a desert rat. When you live in the desert, you know how important oases are.
Stand on the Moon for a moment. Just put yourself there, bathed in earthlight, and gaze at the only oasis we can reach, in all of space. This is it. This is the only place amenable to human life. It's all we've got. It's where we keep all our stuff.
I think about that, when I'm about to throw something out. I also think of the enormous resources it takes to extract the things we need, and the impact that extraction has. I've seen strip mines, and polluted air and water. I've seen acid drainage and land so covered in broken glass it glitters, and you can't walk on it. I've seen things we shouldn't do. And I've seen this oasis, floating in space, just a tiny world full of life in a universe that is beautiful, but offers few places of refuge for creatures like us. So I do some things to protect that oasis, like recycling electronics and old CDs and videotapes and whatever else can be remade rather than simply thrown away. Even in an area awash in water, I try to be careful of that, too, and use just as much as I need, no more. I try to be mindful of the energy I use, and the fuel I consume. These are just a few of the things I try to do, because this Earth is all we have, and I'd like us to have it for a very long time.
But I don't want to preach today. If you're here, you're smart enough to know that caring for the planet is a darned good idea. I just want to show you a few of my favorite places, and some of the threats they face.
My emerald city. Its waterfront could end up drowned if sea levels rise, among other and perhaps more dire problems.
The Colorado River provides water to a huge portion of the American Southwest and Mexico. As population booms, climate changes, and long droughts become the norm, the river may not be able to meet the demand. It's already a shadow of its former self.
Grand Canyon, Arizona. It's still feeling the impacts of past uranium mining and exploration, and we'll be fighting that political battle to keep mining out over and over.
Mountain glaciers in the Pacific Northwest, which provide a considerable amount of summertime water for cities like Seattle, are in retreat (pdf). The warmer we make the Earth, the faster they'll vanish.
Coral reefs are among the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Ocean acidification has already had a nasty impact on them (pdf).
Let's not kid ourselves. Every day is Earth Day. Do something every day, from the smallest acts to the largest, to take care of this beautiful Earth, our only home.
Keeping the air and water clean, reducing our impact on the planet's resources and ecosystems, preserving its beauty and bounty, just makes sense. The Tick was right: it's where we keep all our stuff.