Throughout my radio career, I’ve alternately been called a “wacky liberal” and an “arch conservative.” I like that because it means I view the issues independent of any political orthodoxy and call them as I see them, some times I see them from a more “liberal” point of view, other times from a more “conservative” point of view. I refuse to march in lock step with any political party or organization because I’m an individual, I’m a thinker, and I’ll decide for myself what the best course is.
Three issues facing America matter more to me than any others: the war on terror, the environment and illegal immigration. On two of these issues, the war on terror and illegal immigration, my opinions would be regarded as “arch conservative;” on the third, the environment, my opinions more closely fall in line with “wacky liberals.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the environment lately, here’s what I’ve been thinking.
All life on earth – humans included – is dependant upon a healthy planet, a healthy environment, for survival; if the air we breathe, the water we drink and the ground we walk on is sick and polluted, so too will we become. Don’t you get that if the planet dies, we die with it? The environmental movement is about the self-preservation of man. Our whole existence is based on the ability to draw from the earth what we need to survive – air, water, food – if we poison the planet beyond its ability to provide for us a healthy supply of those things, mankind ends. The environmental movement isn’t about stopping people from wearing fur or preventing shopping malls from being built, it’s about preserving the health of a planet that allows us to live. You can smoke and drink and eat fast food and abuse your body for 20 years, but get a heart transplant and live. There is no such thing as a planet transplant. If we continue to abuse our planet by pumping out carbon dioxide emissions into the air, dumping toxic chemicals in our oceans and overburdening the land with too many people, it will give out like a bad heart and there will be no surgeon to save us.
I support nuclear energy because I’m an environmentalist.
It amuses me when environmentalists are stereotyped as limp-wristed, feminized, touchy-feely, wussies who like to sit Indian style in meadows and recite Joyce Kilmer poetry. Do you know who got the environment movement moving in America? Teddy Roosevelt. Charging up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War Teddy Roosevelt. Explore the Amazon River Teddy Roosevelt. Cowboy Teddy Roosevelt. Big game hunter Teddy Roosevelt. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt. Built the Panama Canal Teddy Roosevelt. Does he sound like a weenie to you? Teddy Roosevelt was the first and greatest conservationist. As president, he set aside 194 million acres of land for use as national parks and nature preserves, created the U.S. Forest Service and the Wildlife Refuge system. Teddy Roosevelt was a man’s man and he was as green as Godzilla.
Most hunters and fisherman are, and all should be, environmentalists. You can’t hunt in a parking lot. They may come from wildly differing sides of the aisle, but sportsmen and liberals should work together on this one issue they can agree on.
Republicans, stop denying the existence of global warming, you sound ridiculous. You know how Democrats sound when they call illegal immigrants, “undocumented workers,” and tell us they’re all just here to work hard, live right and get a piece of the American Dream? That’s what you sound like when you say climate change is a myth. To what degree humans are effecting global warming is debatable, but what’s not debatable is that it’s happening and it’s real. Do I need to show you the satellite imagery of the polar ice caps that have shrunk dramatically in the last 20 years? Do I need to show you the pictures of the glaciers in Alaska that are now lakes? We can wrestle over a lot of issues, but this one has pictures to back up one side and nothing to back up the other. And ask yourself this, suppose human activity isn’t contributing to global warming and that the temperature changes we’re experiencing are unavoidable natural cycles – even if that’s true – what is the downside to undertaking the measures being put forth by the people who think global warming is being caused by humans? What is the downside to reducing our dependency on foreign oil, developing more clean and efficient sources of energy, planting more trees and developing and protecting more green spaces? What’s the downside to doing those things even if they don’t slow global warming?
Only trash litters. You want to do something today that’s easy to help clean up the environment: don’t litter. I believe in public humiliation as a punishment for one offense, littering. I think America should bring back the old “stocks” in the town square for people who litter and put them on display at noon on Saturday as the foulest members of our society. Every non-violent offender in our prison system should be offered the opportunity for early parole for hours spent picking up trash in our streets and parks, and anyone collecting unemployment for more than six weeks should be required to spend 30 hours a week picking up trash to continue getting their government checks.
Why bother saving endangered animals? Why bother saving classic art or architecture or funding symphonies or planting flowers? Animals, like art and music and architecture add incredible beauty, richness and inspiration to life. If the Amur Leopard isn’t worth saving, neither is the Sistine Chapel. John Denver said it best in “Rocky Mountain High:” “I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly.” Go out into nature, take a kid out into nature or to a zoo, watch that kid’s eyes when he sees a whale or a tiger for the first time and tell me that kid’s life didn’t just become fuller and happier. Animals in the wild are living, breathing, walking works of art whose beauty can’t be touched by anything man has created. Enjoy them. Protect them. Do you realize there are six wild, female, Amur Leopards left on earth! Six! To allow this animal to go extinct in the wild would be like taking every original Norman Rockwell painting and throwing them all into a bon fire. Imagine the loss - in both cases. I can show you a picture of the Mona Lisa and that’s fine, but until you’ve been in the Louvre, been close enough to see the brush strokes, until you’ve been in the presence of that genius, you haven’t experienced it. Wild animals are the same way. You can see a buffalo on TV, you can go look at one in the zoo, but until you’ve been out West and gotten so close to one that you can see its tongue and the whites of its eyes, you can’t appreciate the glory of it.
Al Gore talked big about the environment before he ran for president. He talked big about the environment after he ran for president. How come he didn’t talk big about the environment when he ran for president? Coward.
Some people think the earth and the environment are too vast and resilient for humans ever to destroy them. I give you the passenger pigeon, at one time the most common bird in North American with numbers in the range of five billion. Today, it’s extinct and has been for 100 years because of hunting and habitat loss at the hands of man. From five billion to zero. No matter how big and how impressive our oceans and rivers and forests and atmosphere are, we can kill them. Humans do one thing remarkably well – kill. If we aren’t careful, we will kill the earth.
You know who prevents the “Chicken Little,” doomsday scenarios of the environmental wackos from happening? Environmental wackos. It was environmental wackos who got the Clean Air and Clean Water acts enacted. It was environmental wackos who solved the problem of acid rain in this country. If it weren’t for environmentalists, corporate dumping of toxic waste would still be widespread in America, but the Gray Wolf and the manatee would be extinct. Environmentalists scream and shout and are hysterical because they have to be, the issues are that important and it’s the only way to get America’s attention.
Do you want to be remembered as the generation that allowed the Florida Panther, the Giant Panda, the Snow leopard, and the Polar bear to go extinct in the wild? Each of those species and 50 more are teetering on the verge of extinction. How will you explain it to your kids if we let them slip through our fingers? It’s not a hopeless fight, the White Rhino, the Bald Eagle, the American Bison and the Whooping Crane were all at one time in the same spot, but we put our energy into saving those species, if we put the same energy into saving the endangered species of today, we can.
We’ve gone past the point where our government can just ask people to be more environmentally friendly and responsible in their daily lives.
Protecting the earth will take major societal changes. For the United States, we have to curb our runaway consumption of fossil fuels, energy and fresh water while dramatically reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and trash we produce. For Asia, it has to limit its population and do away with this absurd notion that ground up rhino horns or elephant tusks or turtle shells will turn them into sexual stallions.
Ok Republicans, don’t look at protecting the environment as a social issue, look at it as a national security issue. Where do you think Al Qaeda and Hamas get the money for their truck bombs and machine guns? Oil sold in the Middle East to America. Terror groups get their funding from the Iranian government and Saudi Arabian sheiks and where do they get their money from? Oil. If America reduced its dependence on oil as an energy source, the funding for Islamo-fascist terrorism would dry up. It wouldn’t solve the problem, but it would go a long way toward reducing it. Every time you pump gas, you indirectly pump money into Osama Bin Laden’s pocket. You wouldn’t have bought a Volkswagon during World War II and put money into the German war machine, so why are we still buying Middle Eastern oil while fighting Middle Eastern terrorism and putting money into the radical Islamic war machine?
We wrecked it, we can fix it too.
So, what can you do about it? I’d love for everyone to go out and buy a hybrid car and sell their McMansion and move into a condo downtown, but there are dozens of small, easy, every day things you can do that will make a big difference in helping to clean up and protect our environment.
Chances are you already do a lot of these things. Try doing one more each month. Try getting your friends and family to do one. You and me and your family and my family and our friends all doing little things every day can make a huge difference to the environment. Not only that, almost every one of these will save you money.
• Take a kid outside. If you instill in a child a love and respect for nature, you’ve done more to secure the future of life on this planet than you’ll ever know.
• Don’t litter.
• If you must water your lawn, do so at night when less is evaporated by the sun.
• Wash your clothes on the “warm” or “cold” cycle and only when the machine is full. Washing clothes on the “hot” cycle uses a TON of energy.
• The next time you buy an appliance, make sure it has an “energy star” rating and label on it.
• Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. They’re cheap, they last nine years and they’re far more efficient than standard bulbs.
• Donate your old cell phone.
• Want to recycle or donate anything else, anywhere - go to Earth911, enter your zip code in the upper left hand corner and be amazed.
• See if there’s a drop off center near you to recycle your old tennis shoes.
• Don’t use cypress mulch. The cypress trees used for this don’t grow fast enough in nature to sustain their numbers and the ecosystems these trees are taken from are too fragile to withstand the loss.
• Homeowners – plant a tree in your yard. Plant five. Your property value goes up and you’ll be amazed at the peace of mind and calm they give you.
• Reduce, reuse and recycle. In our zeal to recycle, we’ve forgotten the other two “R”s. Every municipality in the country makes it easy to recycle plastic and glass bottles, jars and containers, newspaper and aluminum cans - do it. If you don’t know how or where to, call City Hall.
• How can you reduce? Reduce the amount of water you use by turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth and by making sure none of your household faucets leak.
• How can you reuse? Reuse the bags the grocery store packs your food in by using them as trash bags. I haven’t bought a trash bag in 10 years because I reuse the grocery store bags as trash bags.
• If you fertilize your plants or lawn, use an organic fertilizer.
• If it makes no difference to you, buy poultry instead of beef. The land it takes to graze cattle and their natural carbon emissions are far greater than those of poultry.
• Any chance you could adjust your morning and evening commute 15 or 20 minutes one way or the other to avoid sitting in traffic belching out smog for so long?
• Buy a home water filter instead of bottled water. Between the petroleum used to make the bottle and the packaging, the gas it took to drive the bottled water to the store and the trash created by the bottle, a home filter is far more environmentally friendly.
• Turn your work computer off when you leave at night. Even in “sleep” mode, it’s using energy. Likewise, unplug your TV/DVD/DVR unit from the wall at night, when you’re at work or when you leave on vacation. Even when these are turned “off,” they’re using energy. Unplug your cell phone re-charger when you’re not re-charging your cell phone, it too uses energy whenever it’s plugged in.