Earth is home to some 6.7 billion people today and is expected to have 9 billion by 2040.

Some years ago, on a visit to the Mayan ruins of Copan, in Honduras, I heard a guide say that “nobody knows” why the population, after having flourished on the site an estimated 400 years, “suddenly pulled up stakes and left”. Well, I knew! They had “fouled their nest” and depleted their resources; the place had become uninhabitable.

Is that what we are doing to our planet today? It would seem so. Our lakes, rivers and oceans are polluted; fisheries are losing populations; the air we breathe is detrimental to our health; species, from polar bears in the north to penguins in the south, experience shrinking habitats and face extinction.

It’s now 39 years since Earth Day was first instituted. In another 39 years, will there be anything left to celebrate?

“So what good is Earth Day?”, actor, director and environmental activist Robert Redford asks in The Huffington Post. And then provides the answer: “It's a day that reminds us to take a stand every day and fight for the places we hold dear”, going on to recommend that we use today’s Social Media tools to reach out and “tell the world.” Indeed, but could it already be too late?

If half of our 6.7 billion population did something every day to curb pollution, that would be remarkable. But, even as I go outside to my garden in the early morning, to harvest mesclun for my lunch, thus avoiding a trip to the market, I see a neighbor changing the oil in his car and dumping the old stuff in the storm drain. Another is spreading copious amounts of fertilizer on his lawn, and a third is pulling his Hummer out of the garage to drive his kid to the busstop two blocks away. In other words, let’s hope that Redford’s advice is heeded and that results are achieved. I, for one, applaud every little thing anyone does, to reverse the damage we have already inflicted on our planet, but in the long run, I think we will be like Copan’s population of 1200 years ago, and simply disappear.

Happy Earth Day 2009; let’s remember the good things.

Author's Bio: 

Lya Sorano is a Writer, an Internet Strategist, and a Certified Master Gardener. Her gardening columns have appeared in the Barrow-Jackson Journal, the Georgia Asian Times and The Nooze. When not writing, or working with her clients, she tends an eclectic garden of her own, where perennials and herbs are her favorite plants.