House Call with Carol Hughes

Every day should be Earth Day

Millions of people across the country and nearly every school-aged child will celebrate Earth Day on April 22, but it shouldn’t only be up to them. ‘We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.’ That’s one of the many reasons it’s important to recognize the goals of Earth Day and take action into our own hands to work towards bettering our environment and our planet.

I know most individuals would agree that we shouldn’t be taking time out of our lives once a year to recognize the growing problems with our environment. Indeed, many people do take it upon themselves to declare this day the kickoff to a more mindful lifestyle. It’s easy to make simple changes along the line of reducing, reusing, and recycling. Earth Day reminds us that the concern over pollution and the abuse of our natural resources cannot be left to scientists alone. It requires public buy-in.

A good place to start is to try to reduce the amount of waste you create by buying only what you need and reusing products like water bottles, containers, even snack bags. Most importantly, recycling everything you can goes a long way. If you don’t know where to get reusable products or where to recycle used goods or materials, a quick internet search can yield many options.

Truth is, when we use less we help reduce the effects of climate change which impacts more than just the hotness of our summers and the coldness of our winters. It affects our water supplies, agriculture, and ecosystems. Every day changes to ocean chemistry threaten marine ecosystems by reducing levels of oxygen in the water which kills marine life-the kind of life that is necessary to keep oceans and lakes healthy.

Without healthy and vital water sources we run into serious agricultural problems. Some crops need specific conditions such as right temperatures and enough water to thrive. When conditions are unstable and water sources are  low, food production is in danger. Energy supplies, forests, and coastal areas are also threatened by climate change, but that’s not all….

In addition to the health of our planet, we can also reflect on our personal health and that of people all around the world. The environmental changes associated with climate change can be a big factor in disease mitigation-think of the recent spreading of the Zika virus across the Americas and other parts of the world. More directly, heat waves are the cause of many illnesses and deaths due to heat stroke and the release of toxic air pollutants makes asthma and other lung conditions infinitely worse.

So this Earth Day think of doing things like turning  off your lights when you aren’t using them and turning your air conditioning down a few degrees. Even using a few less ice cubes can make a world of difference. After all, it takes a lot of energy to freeze water and you could help save the polar ice caps that are so vital to our planet and our home.