Sunday, April 19, 2009


Both Earth Day and my son-in-law’s birthday (April 22) come in the middle of the week this year, so celebrations for both took place yesterday. Although not specifically an Earth Day event, my husband and I went to Milwaukee for last of the Great Lakes Water Institute’s lectures in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the dinner for my son in law was in Cook County, Illinois later that day. Driving 40 miles north, then 60 miles south was not exactly an earth-friendly thing to do, but we wanted to attend both events, so we did. However, I will only tell you about one of the events.

The topic at the GLWI was “How the UWM Water Institute Scientists Influence Policy, Law, and Management of Our Freshwater Resources”. The two speakers, Rebecca Klaper and Peter McAvoy did a nice job of summarizing the science behind political issues, telling us about pollutants, where they come from, how they affect public health, and what we can do about it. I picked up a few facts, but in general, I am not sure I learned anything new. However, the talk was a good summary and for the newcomer to this topic, I am sure it very informative.

There were maybe 40 people in the audience (don’t quote me, I’m not good at estimation) and I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them were actually newcomers to the topic. A few people came into the lecture and then, perhaps when they realized that it was a serious presentation, quietly left via the back door. As always, one wonders if an audience like this isn’t the proverbial choir that has already heard the sermon. I would be curious to know.

Still I think these events are important and I would like to see more of them. Even if one or two people learn something – and even better are motivated to do something – the program will have been a success. And as someone who “sort of does something”, I was pushed to do more, and that’s a good thing. The series of lectures was entitled Celebrating Freshwater, and it did exactly that.

I know I wasn’t going to tell you about the birthday celebration, but I changed my mind. We had a wonderful time, with great food and great company. I am not sorry I went to both events, but I also know I will have to repent in some way. So on Wednesday, the real Earth Day, I plan not to drive anywhere. I will walk wherever I go. I will not do laundry and I will not waste water. If I walk to the store, I will carry my tote bag and not use either plastic or paper. I will make amends for my wasteful ways – but I will not say that I was wrong to go to both celebrations yesterday. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do.

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