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Earth Day 2011: Everyday decisions impact planet

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Liliana Moreno
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
I love the feeling of the cool breeze brushing against my face as I drive to work with the windows rolled down on a nice crisp summer morning. At the pool or beach, the warm sunlight reflects nicely on the blue water and makes me feel good to be alive. I guess I've just always enjoyed being able to enjoy nature!

Here in the desert, when the winds kick up sand and dust at certain times of the year, it makes me appreciate the majority of the days when I can easily breathe the clean air and look up at the moon and stars on a clear night. As Earth Day rolls around this year, April 22, it reminds me to do what I can to personally help keep the air clean and our Earth pure.

The Earth deserves more than we may realize. We often don't stop and take a minute to be aware that the Earth is changing everyday and that we have a responsibility to reverse the harmful changes careless or lazy behavior can cause.

Since Earth Day began 41 years ago, people have come a long way toward understanding and minimizing the negative impacts they have on the environment. Making simple, everyday decisions like riding a bicycle or walking to work is a start, but it can also be decisions as small as turning off computer monitors or lights at the office when you're leaving your workcenter. Think of the impact that one billion people (a small percentage of the total world population) doing one thing every day to better the environment could have.

For those of us in the military, energy conservation can positively impact the mission since cost savings can free up precious and scarce funding for mission priorities. Especially when the U.S. is looking at even more budget challenges in the future.

"Changing the culture means that all of us, from the Air Staff to Airmen at home or deployed, must learn to think of energy as part of maximizing mission effectiveness," said Erin Conaton, Under Secretary of the Air Force, during the U.S. Air Force Energy Forum III, Washington, D.C., May 2010.

While there are limits to some green efforts, like recycling, in this deployed environment there are some simple ways each person here can be environmentally responsible during this deployment:
  • Put TVs and DVDs on a power strip and turn appliances off when not in use;
  • Unplug appliances like microwaves and TVs when not in use for extended periods;
  • Use compact fluorescent bulbs to save up to 75 percent compared to regular incandescent bulbs;
  • Turn off lights and monitors in your office when everyone heads out for lunch or for the evening;
  • Unplug cell phone chargers, pagers and other electronic equipment that's seldom used;
  • Close blinds and curtains, to help insulate your office and reduce energy consumption;
  • Adjust cooling systems to 24-26 Celsius (76-78 degrees farenheit)
At home or deployed, everyone can contribute to make the goals of Earth Day work. Governments are helping, but the most successful results come from individual efforts. Everyday decisions and good habits can have a tremendous positive impact on the preservation of the environment.