Vail’s Curious Nature: Happy b-‘earth’-day to me
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Friends, Romans, countrymen – oh wait, the Romans have been gone for a while now, right? You get a little forgetful after 4.5 billion years.
But it is good to be here and sometimes I feel lucky to still be around after all I’ve been through. Dodging meteors and comets, traveling 67,000 miles per hour around the sun, spinning 1,040 miles per hour 24 hours a day … you get the picture.
But actually, 4.5 billion years is just a drop in the bucket compared to some of my friends in the universe, although I know it seems ancient to most of you. And I have to say that I feel pretty good for my age. Of course, there are a few problems -my carbon layer is getting a little thick and my ozone is a little thin, but overall, I’m in pretty good shape.
So here we are, 4.5 billion trips around the sun. I’m still enjoying life and am optimistic about another few billion rides through space. Although now that I’ve gotten your attention, there are a few issues that I think we should talk about. We have a long way to go, you and I, and we need to be thinking long-term if we’re going to last.
On the positive side, I’m beginning to see some great forward-thinking ideas taking root. People are carrying reusable mugs, bringing cloth bags to the grocery store and faithfully recycling some of my very precious resources so that we don’t use them all up.
So now we need to start thinking bigger picture. Where does your energy come from? What can you do to truly use less of the sun’s energy that I have carefully stashed away in hidden reserves throughout the eons. Trust me, after 4.5 billion years, I know a little something about sustainability. It’s time to start thinking carefully about how everything you do impacts me, Mother Earth.
Now I know it’s a party, so I don’t want to be too much of a downer, but I have to be straight about things if we’re going to survive. It’s really a team effort. You take care of me and I’ll take care of you. I’ll grow beautiful green plants and provide fresh flowing waters, but I need your help.
Many of you are already helping – driving less, building sustainably, exploring non-polluting energy sources, and living thoughtfully on my land in many different ways. My gifts are precious, and every one of my 7×1021 tons aches when my resources are squandered.
Perhaps the brightest light on the horizon today lies in education. I see new and exciting things happening in the way you are educating your children. The children are our future and some of the new ideas in education bring me hope.
I peeked in on a kindergarten class in your valley last week, and I watched the students thoughtfully considering the differences between “wants” and “needs.” How insightful and forward-thinking – I hope one of those kids becomes president because they are already getting their priorities straight.
Investing in education is one of the best gifts you can give to me. The children of today will be responsible for taking care of me in my old age and the challenges will be many. Help our children to rise up and be ready for this challenge. Please. Our futures depend on it.
So here we stand, human beings and Earth, at a crossroads in time. We’ve been through a lot in the 200,000 years you’ve graced my surface as Homo sapiens. I’ve treasured each new age and each new development, watching you mature as a civilization like a mother watches her child grow.
Sometimes I miss the good old days when everyone thought the universe revolved around me, but we must all move forward and humans are no exception. But please, think carefully as you continue to progress, because my gifts are finite. Each little piece of me is sacred – each southwestern willow flycatcher, each new species of luminescent Mycena, and yes, even the mountains, rocks, and soils are sacred. For they nourish, support and sustain the life above.
So treasure all of my gifts. Embrace each new dawn and start learning new ways of living lightly on me. Not just on Earth Day, but every day. Happy Earth Day from Mother Earth.
Jaymee Squires is the director of graduate studies at the Gore Range Natural Science School where she enjoys exploring life on the edge and sharing her knowledge about the natural world. The Gore Range Natural Science School’s Curious Nature column appears Mondays in the Vail Daily and on http://www.vaildaily.com. (www.gorerange.org)
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