Do you know that it takes a ray of sunlight eight minutes to reach Earth? Light travels at 186,000 miles per second and light from the moon reaches earth in a little over a second. The sun is about 93 million miles away, so it takes much longer. Scientists predict that the sun will burn out in about four billion years so it will be awhile before mankind’s existence will cease to exist—unless we do something really stupid. The more pressing concern is that we are closing in on the point where the earth will be producing less energy than the current rate of consumption—not by much, but over time, it will become very problematic.
There are many ways for us to reduce our expenditure of energy, but we currently just don’t have the motivation to do so, and I doubt that will change soon. An example of that would be that our federal government recently eliminated the miles per gallon (mpg) requirements for new automobiles after 2021. The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate fuels and their additives to protect us from air and water pollution. By 2025, new automobiles needed to achieve 54.5 mpg, but that seems unlikely due to recent moves by the Executive branch of the US government (Trump) to freeze the requirements at the 2021 level. They are also exploring other options that may include reducing the requirements even more.
We have all seen the smog lift from Los Angeles during the last three months (March/June) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has almost eliminated automobile traffic there. I’m also confident that New Yorkers are breathing better. I think the overriding question has to be: what can we do, individually, to help preserve our planet for future generations by setting examples for them to follow? Here are my suggestions:
⚽Return the 54.5 mpg standards by 2025
⚽Prohibit the manufacture of consumer gasoline engines by 2035 (which is inevitable anyway)
⚽Levy heavy fines on industries that pollute our land, water, and air
⚽ Institute federally mandated recycling programs for cities, businesses and individuals by 2025
⚽Require all plastic to be biodegradable by 2023
⚽ Limit the use of nonvital plastic to specific purposes
As I sit here writing this article, I am looking down the tidal waterway that flows by our home. On each side of this creek, which is about 50 yards wide, I see several rather large boats hanging from their boat lifts, each of which is made of very thick plastic that will still be somewhere on this earth 10,000 years from now, whether floating around in our oceans or buried deep in a landfill. Multiply that by the thousands—maybe millions—of watercraft around the world and you can easily see the dilemma. Throw in a gazillion plastic bags and the ante goes up!
So, what do we do to help rectify this seemingly unstoppable pollution of our wonderful planet? My answer, in addition to those listed above, is simple:
⚽ Elect people to Congress who will pass legislation that is against pollution
⚽ Elect a President who will put national interest before re-election interest
⚽ Use our considerable power within the United Nations to enlist other countries in the quest to neutralize the pollution of our environment
⚽ Insist that our state and local governments start and maintain a system for recycling, and penalize those who will not take part
Well, there it is in a nutshell, my thoughts on how we can save our planet from self-destruction. I believe there is a point of no return and I think we are approaching that precipice. We have to start somewhere, and I think the upcoming November elections are the perfect place to register our discontent. Please join me in that effort.