Pretty cool title, huh? Nothing exceeds like excess came to me about 5:30 this morning and has been rolling around in my head ever since. I’m not sure if I am going to fit the title to my blog subject today (saving the planet) or fit the blog subject to the title. Nevertheless, the inspiration for today’s subject occurred on the way home from work on Friday. There is something about people walking across grass that ticks me off, especially when there is a perfectly good paved alternative right beside it.

I’ve been watching people for almost 5 years take a “shortcut” across a lawn that saves them less than 4 seconds (yes, I’ve timed it – and yes, that may be weird) and in so doing, they have worn a series – not just one, but a series – of bare dirt paths across a perfectly good green space. When it rains, the “shortcut” gets muddy so they widen the path by walking over the grass beside it. The destroyed area is now about 4 feet wide and continues to get worse as people who are absolutely capable of walking for the extra 4 seconds, literally, cut into the landscape.

In many ways, this may seem a very trivial matter but here’s where it bothers me so much. Here in the enlightened West (the West as in North America and Western Europe) we expend an enormous amount of energy talking about the environment and blaming everyone we can think of – especially the oil business – for polluting our planet. We listen to Hollywood pretenders prattle on about how we should close down this company and that industry without thinking about the issue on a personal basis. It’s all nice and safe to carry protest signs, march on government and get interviewed on TV, but none of that makes a damn bit of difference to the health of the planet.


Speaking of excess, many of our rock superstars left us far too early due to the excesses in their lives. Specifically, drug excess in so many cases. I won’t pretend to understand the how’s and why’s of what befell so many of them and I certainly won’t try to explain why drug use might have fueled their creativity, if it did. Some fell into the drug trap and survived – Keith Richards – but so many left us wanting more. One of those that I think could have gone on to even greater heights was Jim Morrison from the Doors. In an attempt to get his life back together, he moved to Paris at the top of his fame and then died at age 27 – no autopsy was performed, but alcohol and drugs were a constant both on stage and off.

Like most things in life, change is created one step at a time, one person at a time and one thing at a time. It’s not what others should or shouldn’t do – it’s what we are doing in our own daily lives that will change the planet. Are we environmentally conscious in our everyday work and play? Do we recycle our bottles, cans, paper, and plastics, or are we still tossing cans out the window of the car along with food wrappers, and chewing gum, and even worse, cigarette butts? Environmentalism is a personal daily philosophy of life without the histrionics of Greenpeace, Jane Fonda and Leonardo DiCaprio. We can spend our time blaming others or we can pick up our own garbage everyday, in every way, and perhaps one more.

How does walking across a lawn every day affect the planet? Grass uses carbon dioxide and produces oxygen, a process called

the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.”
That shortcut, regardless of how small, decreases the amount of oxygen in the air and contributes to soil erosion and just plain looks bad. Add the shortcut I witness everyday to the thousands of others across the earth and the result is huge. Let’s, each of us, take the extra 4 seconds in our life to make a difference in the world. We just might save the planet in spite of ourselves.

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