Who needs Earth Day?

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 19, 2001

I have little patience for those pseudo-intellectual urban-environmentalists who get all worked up over Earth Day. Like performing children anticipating goodies from Santa on Christmas, Greenpeacers and their ilk, clamor to parks and podiums to sing praises to nature and curse the greedy corporations and politicians -- in hopes of being rewarded by network news coverage.

Every day is Earth Day to the people who own and work the land.

We celebrate the first green mouse-ear that sprouts on a maple tree. Green spears rising through last fall's leaf crop, or the remnants of the last snowfall, promise yellow daffodil trumpets, which herald another performance of the symphony of spring.

We get excited when the ground is warm enough to invest the first tomato plant; he who produces the first Early Girl or Better Boy is the year's champion in our neighborhood. (Earth Day practitioners will have no idea what this means).

When the hum of tractors in the distance precedes the rooster crows, and the woods are filled with redbud and dogwood blossoms, and squirrels do battle with blue jays for the right to nature's bounty in a waking oak tree -- now here is celebration.

Watching the corn tower to tassel, then turn to Halloween tan, just to make the pumpkins pop out; seeing the combines collect the cotton, and stack it into monstrous bales; feeling the nip in the air that accompanies foggy mornings and a lazy sunrise -- these are my Earth Days.

As wonderful as they are, they are no better than those days when the snow falls, and wind howls, and I can smell the chocolate-chip cookies browning perfectly in the oven while I watch the Tennessee Titans kick-butt in Jacksonville. These are the days of this earth. These are the days for living.

We don't need a single day to celebrate, nor an excuse to pretend that we have some special appreciation for the earth. In fact, April 22, Earth Day, has become something of an embarrassment. There are always those would-be do-gooders, who think chaining themselves to someone else's tree, or hanging a stupid banner from the top of a water tower -- is going to save the planet.

Those who need this kind of celebration actually need to be re-tested, or to get therapy, or both. Neither their words delivered from a podium, nor their antics delivered to the media, can help or hinder the planet. They are simply activities that provide the practitioners some temporary justification for their existence.

I invite those people who get hopped up over Earth Day to get a life. Invest a tomato plant in the land and it will yield dividends far beyond the fruit.

Listen for the hum of tractors on a distant hillside -- setting the table for future meals around the world. These are the champions of Earth Day -- every day.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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