Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Celebrate Earth Day


Today is Earth Day, a day when people who care for the Earth unite to promote worldwide awareness for environmental justice. Peace activist John McConnell is credited for conceiving an idea of this day as well as the Earth Day flag. McConnell's vision in 1970 was to celebrate Earth Day on March 21, the day of the spring equinox. As a Pentecostal Christian, he felt caring for the Earth was a duty of the faith. McConnell announced the idea at a United Nations conference in October, 1969.

At the same time in 1970, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson noted that environmental problems during that period were not being addressed in Washington and is credited for the April 22nd celebration in which we celebrate today. With the support from the federal government, Nelson can be credited for spreading the public message of Earth Day and the awareness of making the Earth cleaner.

Regardless of who is exactly credited for doing what, both men should be honored for their dedication toward environmental justice.

How can we honor their legacies? 

In short, we should all be generally backing fact-based policies that will make the Earth cleaner. This includes researching and developing clean ways to generate and store electrical power, reducing waste, managing growth, and introducing more fuel efficient cars into the marketplace. Breathing cleaner air in our cities and drinking cleaner water are simply better for our health.

The fact is that we have made strong progress of significantly reducing pollution levels in the United States. Our air is generally cleaner that it was a few decades ago. While Los Angeles is still a bit on the dirty side on many fronts, the city is far more cleaner today than in the 1940's. However, there is still much more work to be done.

Long Beach GRID

One local project that promises to address a significant portion of the present-day pollution in LA is the Green Rail/Intelligent Development SuperDock in Long Beach. This technology promises to cleanly move massive amounts of freight between Long Beach and distribution hubs in the Inland Empire. Because GRID can potentially compete with the Panama Canal expansion, logistics investors and innovators should be inclined to improve the GRID concept and make it work. That will help expand logistics-related jobs without the pollution.

Grave Pollution Levels in Developing Countries

At the worldwide level, global attention for environmental justice needs to turn toward places like China, India and Bangladesh as we've seen reports of some of the worst examples of pollution and hazardous air quality from the urban centers of these countries. The solution will be complex and will require leadership and robust international debate.

Infill Economic Smart Growth

Here at home, many parts of the Inland Empire are stuck in a stagnantly soft economy which leaves many commercial corridors in urban blight. Unchecked urban sprawl last decade also contributed toward massive traffic congestion along many freeways which still remains a reality. That's where smart growth policies and revitalization efforts can play a role toward both environmental justice and a robust market economy. Local officials can entice the private sector to build up the job opportunities by designating portions of commercial corridors as specific plans which would encourage smart growth job development in economically depressed areas.

State officials must also ensure that these Inland marketplace job opportunities and new innovations are not obstructed by too much regulatory red tape. Phase I of the French Valley Parkway Interchange project is a prime example of such obstruction at the state level. Yes, we must have some state regulations and rules for our safety and well being, but they must also be streamlined and more business-friendly.

Such job growth without the sprawl will also ensure our transportation systems are better funded at the local level.

Debating the Maturing Eco-friendly Innovations

Lastly, the innovation and development of more fuel efficient cars and renewable solar energy production for individual properties have both proven to be successful in the marketplace and good for the environment. It's just a matter of time before all-electric cars and mass solar power production will be the norm and become strong competitors in the market economy. Hopefully, the polluting countries will consider adopting these clean forms of energy. We have received great constructive criticism about these technologies and we encourage caring individuals to continue to provide feedback. This will be necessary to build up more fact-based campaigns for environmental justice, a robust market economy, and a fully funded first rate multi-modal transportation system.

Actively participating in the debate is a great way to get involved this Earth Day.

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