Well, unless you are someone that totally ignores the impartial findings of science or a true believer in "rape and plunder" who believes that humans have no responsibility to take care of this planet, you might be a little concerned about the state of the Earth. Al Gore has scared people all over the world with his new documentary on the perils of global warming, worldwide, populations of ocean game fish are dropping rapidly (or are full of mercury in their tissues), hundreds of millions of people or more around the world suffer from foul air and water, and that is saying nothing about the frightening number of armed conflicts that seem to be raging around the globe. In short, this planet is a total mess. It all seems overwhelming, yet, as the saying goes, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  The primary responsibility for saving the Earth and Civilization lies within the individual.  So let us not give up hope while waiting for B'Obama, big government, or big business to suddenly wake up and solve these problems (if you do, you will be waiting for a very, very long time).  I have some ideas on how to start NOW and do something positive TODAY to improve things.  Here are some positive practical steps that anyone can do. Additionally, I think it is critical to understand that many of our most serious environmental and social problems were created by people thinking too narrowly, too selfishly, and with too little kindness and insight. So make being nice to people—all people—one of the primary things that you can do to ward off global environmental or nuclear Armageddon.

Here is the list:

1. Be nice to people. Even to people you don't like (examples: Republicans, Greens, Democrats, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Clintonville liberals with dogs, East-Side ganga rappers, Hilliard soccer moms who voted for Bush, Jim Traficant, yes, even Alberto Gonzales (although there, you might want to take an aspirin, too). Studies have shown that nice people plunder the planet less and that they are also less likely to start nuclear wars.

2.  Drive nice I. Why is it that the more people you get on a crowded, busy road, the ruder and more aggressive they become?  If the road is busy and crowded, shouldn't you slow down so that someone doesn't get hurt? Tailgaiting—stop it! It is rude and studies have shown that it is a dumb idea. Believe it or not, reducing the incidence of tailgaiting here in central Ohio will help reduce the threat of a war with Iran.

3.  Drive nice II. To save the planet, get a station wagon. What is up with all these big trucks used as single-passenger commuter vehicles? (Examples: Explorers, Excursions, Highlanders, Humvees, Escalades, etc.—yeah, just what you need to negotiate the parking lot at Kroger). Dump your giant, wasteful SUV and get a Honda Civic. If you need more space, get a Subaru station wagon. Yes, they actually still sell station wagons.  And drive slower on the freeway.  It wastes a lot of fuel when you travel at 75 mph instead of 65 mph.  Aerodynamic drag increases exponentially with vehicle velocity.  Just ask a race-car designer or a Tour de France cycling team.

4.  Recycle. Don't throw out paper, aluminum, and plastic if you don't have to.  It saves energy and makes you feel good, too. Recycling does matter and don't listen to those who "pooh-pooh" it. Their thoughts are confused by plastic that has entered their bloodstream. 

5.  Don't make the suburbs bigger. Either live in the city or move to Circleville. Please don't keep buying those giant 3,950 square-foot houses in the outer suburbs. Many of us have purchased these things on overextended bank terms anyway. These gargantuan houses in the corn fields cause a lot of environmental and social problems. Move to Clintonville, get a dog, and hop on the #2 COTA bus line. Or move to Casper, WY.

6.  Avoid eating meat. Eating a lot of meat is not good for the planet or for you.  It is a waste of bioenergy. Each time that energy travels from one level of a food chain to the next, 90% of it is wasted. Eating plants exclusively reduces the tremendous amount of bioenergy wasted in feeding animals to be eaten as meat. There are too many people on this planet now for us all to keep eating three hamburgers and a pot roast every week. Plants are safer to eat, too.  And why would you want to eat a mammal—don't they have intelligence and take care of their young just like you?  It is probably spiritually insensitive to eat pork and beef, and if all Americans renounced pork today, we might have better relations with Islamic people around the world.

7.  Don't use leaf blowers. These are the most evil and polluting devices known to mankind (or womankind).  Get a rake (I use a floor broom).  If you are old or infirm, you are allowed an exemption from rule #7. Otherwise, go to Ace Hardware and get a rake. Leaf blower noise can increase the risk of high blood pressure and suicide. More importantly, studies have shown that the skyrocketing homicide rate in Columbus is directly linked to the increased use of these devices.

8.  Do something spiritual. You don't have to go to church, but do something to make yourself more calm and focused.  Pray, meditate, do yoga, tai chi, zazen, levitate, or sing in the choir.  But more people need to be more spiritual, or we are going to have more and more serious problems.  Spiritual means Happy, so be Happy. Turn off the TV and listen to Celtic music.  Meditate three times a week.  Read the Bible with joy.  Do something that inspires you.  It will help us all.

9.  Buy carefully. Avoid those businesses and products that you know are not good for people or the planet.  Not sure what this means?  Well, here are some examples:  Stop buying Cadillac Escalades.  Stop buying so much cheap, imported, plastic from Wal-Mart. Cut back on those big Porterhouse steaks. Don't have a Starbucks coffee in Bexley when there is a perfectly good Cup of Joe that was there first. Stop in and visit Ed Bain at the food co-op in Clintonville.

10.  Look at the big picture and be creative. Avoid getting yourself into narrow ideological traps (especially when a lot of money is involved).  Ignore those that hold onto the old, negative ways of doing things.  Think outside the box. Start your own business making biodiesel or give up your high-powered corporate lawyer job to teach ninth-grade science. You will feel better when you wake up in the morning. And don't forget to kiss your wife in the morning and pet your dog.

Jack Byrom holds a B.A. degree in environmental science from Capital University.  His first job out of college in the post-9-11 economy was driving a semi-truck, and he drinks fair-trade, shade-grown coffee. He now works in the field of scientific publishing in Columbus, Ohio.