We Americans, particularly in comparison to most of the rest of the world, have much to be thankful for. Correspondingly, with this thankfulness comes hopefulness that things can be better. With that in mind, let me offer thanks with a note of hope on some of our most vexing environmental challenges.
We central Pennsylvanians should be thankful for the incredibly beautiful natural landscape with which we have been blessed. It should be our hope that we learn to value what a blessing it is and better understand what we must do preserve it. It is especially important to understand that many of our land use decisions will remain with us for decades.
While speaking of blessings close to home, we should also express thanks for the amazing water resources which we enjoy. Let’s hope that we continue to protect those tree-covered watersheds and restore those fouled by mine drainage. Let us also recognize that our ground water is only one careless act away from being undrinkable.
We should also express our appreciation for the many local governments, businesses and individuals that work hard to protect these resources that we use every day. It should be our hope that decision-makers will continue to value the work and find the financial resources for our water and sewer authorities, local government planners, teachers and researchers that raise awareness on these issues, and professional environmental managers of all kinds.
Nationally, I am especially grateful that the United States has valued environmental protection and enacted laws to make this protection a reality. It is my hope that we will see a resurrection of the bipartisan spirit that brought us the original Environmental Protection Act in 1972. That cooperative approach (so rare today) also produced a number of landmark environmental laws that still protect our air, water and those in the workplace.
We should be thankful that the auto industry has finally made substantive progress toward better gas mileage in their cars and trucks. Yet we must endeavor to raise awareness of buying more of those cars and demanding that the industry continue to make progress to make even better ones.
In a world of unstable oil-producing governments, we should also be thankful for the growth of wind-generated power and new-found natural gas. Yet we should be hopeful that we move forward with care so as not to ruin that incredible landscape or those amazing water resources in the process.
Land and water resource protection should also prompt us to be thankful for that which is so often the emphasis of Thanksgiving – food. Here is a hope that we preserve the farmland that is too often gobbled up by suburban sprawl.
We should be grateful that our understanding of the harms of toxic chemical use has grown over the last few decades. Let’s hope that less toxic alternatives to pesticides and industrial chemicals continue to grow.
Finally, I am thankful to both old acquaintances and perfect strangers that tell me they read and enjoy “Earth Matters”. So I optimistic that people are striving to learn more and hoping to make their little corner of the planet a bit greener in the process.