It's one of those days—a day with a calendar reminder that we are to celebrate or commemorate something or someone. A day in which we are supposed to incorporate some sort of activity to honor the day's designated honoree. Today is a double whammy— Administrative Professionals Day and Earth Day. Regarding the latter, while I feel the Earth certainly deserves its day in the spotlight, I'd much rather see us perform Earth Day activities each and every day that we inhabit this precious planet. Apparently Newsweek writer Daniel Stone and others agree.
Yesterday, I asked a colleague how he was doing. He said, "There's a show on the History channel tonight about what the earth is going to look like after all the humans perish. That made me feel good. You know, being alive and all."
It seems to me that we spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about problems, real and perceived (which makes them real to us), in our lives and not nearly enough time acknowledging and being grateful for the blessings. And blessings exist, even when it appears as though the world we've known is changing in ways that make us uncomfortable and fearful.
Daily headlines are enough to send us into gloom-and-doom overload. Just today, it was announced that the Obama administration has set aside up to $5 billion more for GM and $500 million for Chrysler to restructure their operations. (Where on earth are they getting the money?) In the meantime, my list of friends and relatives who have lost their jobs and are having problems finding another is growing. I'll bet yours is too.
Is this disturbing? Of course it is. Should we be concerned? Of course we should. Should we allow this concern to negate the good in our lives and relegate our blessings to the nethermost corners of our consciousness? Of course not.
Without a doubt, the greatest blessing in our lives is our home, Earth. No work of art, no manmade edifice, or machine—nothing is as awe-inspiring or more important in our lives than the Earth. Yet we take it for granted. We exhaust far more of its resources than we replenish. We bury our debris under its surface and contaminate its life-giving and -sustaining waters and air. One day, our ingratitude and negligence of our planet will destroy us.
Last year's Automotive Bailout Plan that passed the House, but not the Senate, included environmental stipulations. In fact, the bill listed environmental goals above boosting U.S. auto sales. Section 2 listed the first purpose of the bill as "to immediately provide authority and facilities to restore liquidity and stability to the domestic automobile industry in the United States."
The second purpose was to ensure that such authority and such facilities are used in a manner that—"(A) results in a viable and competitive automobile industry that minimizes adverse effects on the environment; (B) enhances the ability and the capacity for the domestic automobile industry to pursue the timely and aggressive production of energy-efficient advanced technology vehicles."
After these two purposes came: "( C ) preserves and promotes the jobs of American workers employed directly by the domestic automobile industry and in related industries; (D) safeguards the ability of the domestic auto industry to provide retirement and health care benefits for the industry's retirees and their dependents; and (E) stimulates manufacturing and sales of automobiles produced by automobile manufacturers in the United States."
Although the bill was defeated and TARP funds were used instead to aid the struggling automakers and suppliers, the current administration is emphasizing the need for fuel-efficient vehicle development as part of the automaker"s restructuring plans, which will qualify them for aid. The document Obama Administration New Path to Viability for GM & Chrysler stresses the need for the automakers to build fuel-efficient vehicles. They need to do that and more to help our environment. It's good to see GM doing more.
A GM news release distributed April 20 said, "While General Motors continues its ambitious investments in alternative fuel and advanced propulsion technologies, the company is also continuing to make dramatic improvements in reducing the environmental impact of its worldwide manufacturing operations.
"As the significant global effort is underway to develop hybrid and other 'green' vehicle programs, such as the Chevrolet Volt, GM is also setting the industry standard for 'sustainable' manufacturing methods."
Among the steps the company is taking to improve its environmental impact are initiatives to make its manufacturing facilities landfill-free by recycling or turning its production waste and garbage into energy; to use more renewable energy, such as solar power and landfill gas; and to practice water conservation.
Putting one of its initiatives in perspective, Elizabeth Lowery, GM vice president for Environment, Energy and Safety Policy, said, "When a household puts a single bag of trash on the curb, they are sending more waste directly to a landfill than all our 54 current global landfill-free plants combined."
Wow & if that statement isn't enough to make you think twice about the garbage you take to the curb and how much of it could be recycled, I don't know what is. Let's honor the Earth in a meaningful way by taking the time to recycle; using recyclable cloth bags instead of paper or plastic for shopping; taking all possible steps to reduce water consumption; using renewable energy sources when we can; and not driving when we don't have to. Let's make taking care of our home a priority every day, not just today.