SHOULD YOU HAVE DONE FOR EARTH DAY?
April 26, 2009
I have two
environmental suggestions for this week. As almost everyone who likes
to breathe clean air knows, Earth Day was April 22. But one day is not
enough. We should celebrate Earth Day year-round, from the time we wake
up until we go to sleep, all day, every day. After all, we want a clean,
healthy, and enjoyable environment all the time, not just one day a year.
So my first suggestion is that we start celebrating Earth Year and make
Earth Day something we did last century.
already have the Earth Year attitude and contribute to making our environment
safe, healthy, and pleasant in myriad ways. One of my favorite activities,
which I hope is a contribution, is to answer questions that help people
become familiar with the intriguing array of life forms and ecological
interactions that exist in the world. The complexity of both exotic and
everyday plants and animals is fascinating, and I applaud everyone who
wants to learn more about the natural world. So my contribution to Earth
Year is to answer questions and respond to opinions related to environmental
awareness and appreciation.
I am not
able to check my email account every day but I do try to respond to all
queries eventually. Of course, if your question is like this one--"I
have a copperhead coiled up on my front porch. Should I let the dog and
children play in the yard?"--my answer may be too late to help you.
timeliness of my responses is not the issue. My point is that the basic
elements of any email from a polite and reasonably intelligent person
should include who you are and where you are. So my next suggestion, which
I have made before, is that people who have environmental queries exercise
at least minimal email etiquette.
I like to
be responsive to the people who write me. But how much time should I invest
in an email that says, in its entirety, "I would like to know how
to raise catfish. Please respond as soon as possible." I did send
the anonymous writer from an anonymous place the URL for a Web site on
catfish. Should I have done even that? Another one that is more frequent
than I care to remember runs something like this: "I am doing a report
for class and would like for you to send everything you can about ecology
and the environment. My report is due tomorrow. Sparky." These are
the kinds of emails I like to open a day late.
should I respond to "I saw a black snake crossing the street. What
is it?" No herpetologist could give a definitive answer without knowing--at
the very least--what continent you live on. The list of problematic emails
I have received goes on and on. But it's time to bring this rant to a
close and offer some simple guidelines for composing an email in which
you are asking someone for information or advice.
rule: Give your name and, if appropriate, your affiliation with a school
where you live. Remember that with most emails someone only knows what
planet you live on. An important clue for identifying some plants and
animals is specific location. If you are requesting information about
a topic for an academic project, identify the course you are taking and
where you go to school.
for the possibility that you may have to wait a few days for a response.
your message in English, not Internet acronyms, and take time to proofread
it before you press "send."
are my two suggestions. First, one day is not enough to honor the earth
and all its glories. Let's celebrate Earth Year, each day, all day long.
Second, I commend everyone who wants to learn about animals, plants, and
ecology. Just remember to follow the simple rules of email etiquette outlined
above to ensure that you get a helpful answer in a timely fashion.
you have an environmental question or comment, email