Future-forward 4th of July

Future-forward 4th of July

Ah, social media… if nothing else, my friends and associates remind me to do better. I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here, but thanks in part to communication from my smart, kind and responsible friends online and in real time, I AM trying to re-imagine our Great American Independence Day for a greener, kinder future.

I love summer, I love the holiday. So what’s an environmentalist to do?

Take this year’s Independence Day, on which the president will see fit to display tanks and fly fighter jets overhead in a big show of power and might. Of course, he’ll be giving a speech, perhaps a version of the same campaign rant he always gives. At our house, we won’t be watching. (Too bad we have no money to properly handle migrants at the border, but plenty to act like a banana republic for the 4th.)

Animals hate fireworks, and this goes for wild as well as domesticated ones. In Cape Coral, Florida, officials filled an unoccupied nest to assure that burrowing owls wouldn’t be present and alarmed by upcoming fireworks. It was probably a smart move. Wild animals are so frightened and disoriented by the noise that they often desert their young, and may never return to them. I’ve always liked professional fireworks, but now I’m feeling bad about the damage.

A friend reminded us all that the car travel (see 10 cities with the longest predicted delays) and the powerboat excursions over the holiday are pumping huge amounts of fossil fuels into our heating atmosphere, and cautions, “It’s not business as usual, people.”

I suppose that goes for all those hamburgers, steaks and hotdogs, too. (Are the hotdogs even real meat?) Meat production is terrible for the planet.

Here’s where I am at, so far. I am happy to skip Trump’s extravaganza. Fireworks? We’ll watch them from afar. We’re not traveling this weekend, and we may use kayaks, which of course don’t burn gas. We eat more tofu and bean burgers than meat these days, anyway.

But that’s just at my house. And we are WAY short of perfectly green. It’s hard – it really is – to change, especially when it means sacrificing or cutting back on favorite activities and special occasions.

I suspect the best we will do, collectively, in coming years, is compromise, be mindful and make incremental changes. (I’d rather skip meat forever than not travel to see family or friends.) Someday, I’ll bet fireworks could be replaced by some kind of fantastic light show that scares animals less or not at all. We’ll always picnic together – maybe we’ll just eat “more of this, less of that.”

And fossil fuels for travel? That’s a biggie. As a nation and world, we need to rethink transportation and recreation so it’s more sustainable. In the meantime, we have a lot of changing to do, and from the look of this week’s traffic reports, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

Enjoy the holiday! As we do, I hope we all give a bit of thought to building a brighter, greener, kinder world for all the 4ths to come. We should always have room – and find reasons – to celebrate.