Monday, April 16, 2007

Going back to get to today

The two interconnected stories aired locally on WCCO should be eye openers, but for too many the firsthand experiences of these Americans are nothing more than "junk science" and "fear mongering" by loony liberals.

I thought I could make it through a month without getting into the entire debate about global warming or climate change being real or fake but with Earth Day fast approaching I remember what my fifth grade class did to mark the 20th Anniversary of Earth Day in 1990. (Read on, it comes full circle... eventually)

My fifth grade class was sort of the advanced class in my particular elementary school. I don't know if it was done this way intentionally but regardless of how it happened we seemed to be the "progressive" class. It could have been the students, maybe the teacher who was fantastic or it may have been a combination of both factors.

However it happened, we decided to do a number of things in our school of about 600 students to make a small difference on our small section of the planet.

I remember how we initiated office paper recycling in the school. We gathered boxes to be placed in each and every classroom for the paper. We toured the newly constructed recycling building to see what happened to the recyclable materials after they were collected. We listened as we were told what happened to the recyclables after they left the building. We also learned what couldn't currently be recycled. One item in particular was styrofoam. In 1990 styrofoam was everywhere. Your parents' Big Mac came in one and, more importantly, our school lunches came on a "disposable" styrofoam tray.

We saw that as something that could be changed. One day, classmates stood and instructed everyone eating the purchased hot lunch to throw away remaining food and styrofoam trays into separate trash cans. As the bags were filled, they were counted and the results were amazing. The majority of the trash from the cafeteria was from the styrofoam trays.

We continued our project by crunching the numbers. We found out how much it cost the school district to purchase the styrofoam trays and set out to find purchase prices for resuable trays to compare costs. Then came the big night. A few classmates along with our teacher went to the school board meeting to present the findings. With factual numbers regarding the waste and the costs associated with both options, the school board made a decision to return to reusable trays.

I don't remember from 17 years ago what the costs were but it must have made fiscal sense to the school district because when I entered sixth grade, the entire district had changed to reusable trays and silverware. It worked. One fifth grade class had impacted the entire school district.

This comes full circle with the previous weekend's events. The rally at the state capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota with 5,000 global warming activists and believers attending. They co-existed with 7,000 rallying for lower taxes at the opposite end of the capitol grounds. While the support for both rallies was partisan in political terms, they are causes which shouldn't be.

Sometimes, though, both sides need to agree but that just doesn't happen when the likes of radio talker Jason Lewis spew hatred for anything he hasn't personally experienced. He was the one who rallied what must be all 7,000 people listening to his radio show for the tax rally. The global warming rally, like so many before it, was much more grass roots and was featured more prominently in the media circus in the Twin Cities. Probably because its support didn't stem from only one person. The belief that global warming is real in at least some form is evident in our globe's northern areas and while it doesn't directly effect us, it will eventually as each and every action on our planet has reactions felt globally.

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