The world is too much with us; late and soon,


Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;


Little we see in Nature that is ours;


We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!


So wrote William Wordsworth about 200 years ago, in a sonnet.


But the earth, the planet where our world is based, is too little with us, it seems to me. It seems that we continue to be unconcerned about its health, even though we know there is cause for concern.


We continue buying Styrofoam in quantity, to use and throw away. We forget to use our reusable shopping bags. We buy all sorts of single-use products, and single-servings broken down for us. We don’t compost because it seems like a bother. We recycle only when it is as convenient as not recycling, or pays off in a deposit refund.


Or at least, many among us operate that way.


Wordsworth wrote of people’s tendency to waste time and to adopt materialism as a guiding ideal. And for what!


We are too busy to rinse or wash the container and put it into the bin. We don’t want the bother of measuring. We have downsized and can’t store quantities of food and buy only single-portion kits. We buy snacks we can carry easily, already packaged for the purpose. But we are busy, we have to work. We are buying something quick at Sheetz or in a drive-through. We are saving by not eating in restaurants, where we would be paying for food preparation and service.


Of course we are paying for preparation and service in all the convenience foods we buy—hiring unseen others to do the measuring and combining and washing and paring and slicing and cooking and freezing and all that packaging. But few of us have studied how much more food costs when it has had all this convenience added. Perhaps we have noticed the loss of taste, but with the addition of MSG and with lots of dip (in single-serving packets), we can compensate for that.


Then there’s pollution. That was a main concern at the beginning of the Environmental Movement. When was that? When was the first Earth Day?


April 22, 1970, eight years after the publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.”


That was the year the Beatles’ last album came out, Jimi Hendrix died, and Simon & Garfunkel had a hit with “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Environment was not a word that came trippingly from the tongue, for most of us, and ecological concepts were not something we had spent a lot of time thinking about.


The anti-war (Vietnam) protest movement people embraced the environmental one. Youth led the way, to a great extent.


In government, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson was still fired up over the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He touted a “national teach-in on the environment.” Congressman Pete McCloskey, a Republican conservative, co-chaired the effort, and they recruited Dennis Hayes as their national coordinator.


That first earth day led to the adoption of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. There are those in Congress now who advocate weakening or dismantling those landmark acts!


Earth Day went global in 1990. Recycling efforts became a major emphasis.


By 2000 it had become apparent, through the environmental movement’s mainstream adoption and heightened consciousness of the public at large, that clean energy is a major concern. Giant energy companies give lip service and add the color green and leafy motifs to corporate logos and advertising campaigns. Meanwhile many of them lobby frantically to oppose legislation that would continue, let alone expand, environmental safeguards or protection.


We hear mind-bending arguments against what has been so resoundingly demonstrated, documented and benchmarked as climate change. It’s hard to glorify those pronouncements as arguments. They sound more like sneers, with little appeal to the intellect—mostly an appeal to the mindless sense that “nobody is going to tell me what I can do or where I can do it.” Plus, it’s such a bother to have to behave responsibly!


The ravages of climate change are dramatically evident in some parts of the globe, but not invisible here. We can witness the despoilment of our environment, close to home. We can see results of disregard of our shared need of clean air, in stricken people and bereaved families in our community.


It is good to see that some pro-environmental-protection forces in the community are concerned and active. The Upper Allegheny Watershed group postponed its clean-up day Saturday because of rain, but it will be rescheduled. They do a phenomenal job.


Stream rehabilitation is one project they have waded into, as have the God’s Country and Seneca chapters of Trout Unlimited. Stream monitoring is being handled by the private sector and conservation agencies, with “seniors” getting into the swim of things.


So there’s bad news and good news, and sometimes, seemingly, nothing new under the sun, in the care of our planet and our more immediate environment.