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Earth Day 2012

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Earth Day 2012

Bill Crittenden
April 21, 2012


This was originally a post on the Facebook page for The Crittenden Automotive Library, entered into the Library's content for preservation.

Yes, it did occur to me that I could do something special in the Library for Earth Day. Instead, I spent the day with my son at the Conservation District in McHenry County, Illinois teaching him a little about nature and the environment. We walked in the woods, pulled non-native weeds from part of it, did a little information scavenger hunt and got a nice little patch for his Cub Scout vest for all of it.

In the short time I have left, I'd like to remind folks that the United States accounts for just 5% of the world's population. Please look at the big picture...while that Hummer in the next parking spot makes a nice target being big and ugly and within spitting distance, attacking such relatively small targets gives people the illusion of making a difference and THAT makes people stop striving for real change. We have over 7 billion people breathing out carbon dioxide even when sleeping, and methane is 20 times as effective as carbon dioxide as greenhouse gas, which is produced by all the cows we raise for our cheeseburgers whether we drive a Hummer or a Leaf. Forcing the faceless shopper to trade in their Hummer for a Leaf feels like "doing something" but if you're so busy doing the littlest things or resting on your laurels thinking that you've accomplished real environmental change then you ignore the big picture.

So how can America fix the problem if we can't control the rest of the world? Think of this...in the 1800's, cities were literally burying themselves in shit. All the horses from all the people in the big cities were laying down a carpet of fly-infested disease-spreading stink in New York that could not be cleaned up fast enough, leaving some to predict that it would reach the third floor windows of the city by 1930 if people still lived there. But it didn't. Why? Because by 1912, automobiles outnumbered horses in the city. Technological innovation had inadvertently found a fix to a problem that they weren't even working on directly. And Americans weren't the only ones to benefit, the city of London was having a similar crisis in the 1890's and had begun to dig out their city thanks to the automobile as well. The first Automobiles, invented by Germans, made affordable to all by an American, and as inefficient as they were compared to today's subcompacts, actually became the solution to a pollution problem around the world!



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