Michigan is my home, and I love it dearly. I love every one of the 35,000 inland lakes and ponds, 49,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 3,000 miles of coastline on the Great Lakes. I love every color of October, every foot of snow in January, every rain shower of April, and every nobody-knows weather day of late July. With every sip of Vernor’s ginger ale, every lick of Superman ice cream, and every bite of pastry, I fall more and more in love with this state. Every white tailed deer hunted, brook trout fished, and apple blossom picked makes me more and more grateful for the beauty of God that is reflected in nature. From space, I know exactly where I live: the hand inside the north-western hemisphere. The hand – the only Mitten that has or will exist on planet Earth, or anywhere. In our solar system, in the whole Milky Way galaxy, even in the universe. Literally, the ONLY Michigan that will ever be in existence.
And I beg of you – please, please take care of it.
I promise that I am not one of those crazy environmentalists who is screaming down people’s throats to bike thirty miles one way to work everyday, or to switch all of your lights to expensive, “green” energy saving bulbs, but I am asking you to do this: Be smart.
Personally, I try to make it a habit to shut off the light when I leave a room, to turn off the water when I brush my teeth, and all the other typical stuff. If I have to go somewhere that is nearby on a nice day, I try to walk or ride my bike. The library is a short mile from my house, and it is a lovely ride on one of those early fall days that the weather is not quite ready to commit to autumn yet – you know, the ones where you can just barely go without a sweater. It’s not difficult. It can even be enjoyable.
Just please don’t dump your car oil into a storm drain, leave lights on when you’re gone, or drive your car everywhere you go. Why? Three reasons.
1) Something lives here other than you. The watershed that you just poured your waste down, those storm drains are not filtered before they are put back into the water table. If you contaminate it with your unnatural substances, the brook trout (Michigan’s state fish) will die. The fish rely on a clean, cold river to swim in. They needs it to survive. The white-tailed deer doesn’t want to accidentally ingest your empty pizza box or the remains from your picnic. Leaving a plastic sandwich bag behind is not a good way to leave your mark on the world. Recycling is easy. Not only will it be fun trying to think of new ways to save money and get some of those Pinterest projects done, but it will be good for the planet, and for the Mitten. So many items are thrown out and take up space in landfills each year that could be reused as crafts, art projects, and usable tools that make the world a better place for everything living here, not just the superior species.
2) This is not your Earth. Nor is it mine. The only ownership we can claim to it is that it’s ours to take care of. It’s not my Michigan, no matter how much I want it to be. It’s not my country, and it’s certainly not my world, but it’s God’s. He gave it to us to love, to take care of, and to use. I have nothing against harvesting trees for the use of paper, flooring, heating, or anything else useful. Just replace them and do not waste what you took. It makes sense to use it wisely. I have nothing against you hunting, in fact I encourage it. Just use what you kill, take a moment to thank God for giving it to you, and follow the laws set in place by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Man’s first job was to take care of the Earth that God gave us. It’s not your lake, it’s God’s, so clean it up. It’s not your river, it’s God’s, so be nice to it. Mostly though, it is not your mitten, it’s God’s, so be gentle to it and repair it when it becomes damaged.
3) Government regulation is not a long term solution. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Lake Erie bore the brunt of pollution as Detroit, Toledo, and Cleveland poured their industrial waste into its shallow but convenient waters. This caused an extreme boost in algae production, sucking out the oxygen needed by fish and other organisms. The dangerous chemicals that abounded in the water made it unsafe for wading, bathing and most importantly, ingestion.
Over the past several decades, the Great Lakes have gotten cleaner and companies have stopped dumping waste directly into the water that we all need to live. And as a conservative, I can say that this is largely due to the Clean Water Act passed in 1972.
However, the market has changed. People want cleaner air, water, and land, and are beginning to hold companies accountable. The market craves the good stewardship of resources. Especially among young people, the need for sustainable energy and products is growing. It’s currently trendy to be sustainable. Unlike space buns and the #21DF, this one is here to stay. When there are more efficient ways to produce goods, we can rest assured that companies are going to find them.
The federal government has no authority to protect the environment, but at its most basic function it must protect property rights. This is the basis for conservative conservation, and with smart tax guidelines, protection of the free market, and keeping a careful eye on the damaging effects of poor ownership, we can ensure the Great Lakes’ survival for generations to come.
I want my children to spend their summers swimming as far from the beach as they can, not sitting on the former sand dunes listening to me reminisce on my childhood of pure Michigan.
I’m asking you from the bottom of my heart, be someone who cares about this state and this planet. You don’t have to be a Christian, a liberal, or a resident of Michigan itself, but you are a citizen of the globe, and therefore you have a duty to care. Use our resources, but do not abuse them. Protect the approximately 575 different species of vertebrae that reside in Michigan with us, and keep the Great Lakes great. Most of all though, keep the Mitten around. I love it too much to let it go to ruin.