Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Not Green?

During most of 2008 I wrote several articles on green living for my column in the Arizona City Independent/Edition. As part of that series, the following article was published in the October 8, 2008, edition of that paper.


‘Green living’ is ‘in’ now, thanks to people like Al Gore, who was sounding the alarm on global warning for decades before it became popular. Jim and I heard his message years ago. Back then, we were doing small things to help, but it wasn’t enough. We still have a long way to go. Becoming green is a step-by-step process; it doesn’t happen overnight.

No matter how popular it is to fight global warming, there are still nay-sayers, especially among powerful people who, sadly, stand squarely in the way of progress. I fear that they could be signing a death warrant for many species on the planet--including, eventually, the human race.

That’s why we’re involved in this effort. Actually, I made up my mind to join the ecological fight over fifty years ago. In the summer of 1958, I witnessed an example of why we must be careful about managing our natural resources.

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, I loved going with my family to swim in Lake Worth, east of the city. In the early ‘50s, Lake Worth was a nice place for families to swim, picnic, and just hang out. When we lived in Ridglea on the east side of town, we went up there several times each summer, but after we moved to Handley on the west side in December 1955, we didn’t get to the lake much at all.

Then one day we took a trip up to Lake Worth, just to spend a day in the country. For some reason, we didn’t wear bathing suits, which we would have done in the early part of the decade. Maybe our parents knew. I never did ask them about it. But it turned out to be an eye-opening trip.

Though it was a bright summer day, there weren’t many people around. I understood why after we left the car and started walking toward the lake. I first noticed that there was a different odor to the air than the fresh country smells I remembered from earlier days. The closer we got to the water, the more I could smell it, and it wasn’t pleasant.

Upon reaching the water, we realized the lake was much smaller than it had been before. Fort Worth was always going through alternate spells of too much and too little, floods and drought, so a shrunken lake wouldn’t be that much of a surprise. But it was the condition of the water and the beach that shocked me.

The water itself was dark and dirty looking, not like the fresh, clean water we used to swim in. It looked so bad we weren’t even tempted to wade in, which we would’ve done, even if we hadn’t planned to swim. On that day, we didn’t even want to walk across the beach, which was littered with trash and dead fish. Even the soil, the former lake bed, didn’t look or feel like good old Texas dirt. As an outdoor kid, I knew good dirt when I saw it, and this wasn’t it!

The entire area had a doomsday feel to it. Even vegetation surrounding the expensive lakefront houses looked sick. The entire scene had the pall of death. I don’t know whether it was pollution or neglect or just all the trash that had been dumped around there. It was probably a combination of all those things. The lake and the land around it was dying, and something must be done to bring it back to life.

We didn’t stay at Lake Worth for long that day, and it was the last time we went there. The next spring, we moved to Littleton, CO. I haven’t been back to the area, except during a couple of subsequent moves when we drove straight through the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex without stopping.

I do know that since that fateful day, things have changed for the better. Apparently, people took charge of the situation and cleaned up the lake. I discovered this while watching an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" and saw Chuck Norris visiting a house on the shore of Lake Worth.

The area was beautiful again, the lake clean, and all the houses surrounded by lush lawns and thriving trees and plants. I’ve since checked the internet and found that Lake Worth is a thriving resort community now. That would’ve been impossible with the lake I’d seen in the summer of 1958.

That’s why I have no doubt that no matter what other factors affect the environment, positive human involvement is vital. Besides, it’s the one factor we can control. We have the choice to ignore the obvious and kill this planet, bit by bit. Or we can nurture it and help it to thrive as a wonderful ‘mansion’ for the enjoyment of the entire human race. It’s up to us.

I plan to be among the positive inhabitants of this planet, our virtual home. I hope you’ll join me in that effort too!

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