In this Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 file photo, children wearing masks walk home after school in Beijing, China. Air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide every year according to a new report from the World Health Organization published Tuesday, March 25, 2014. The agency said air pollution triggers about 1 in 8 deaths and has now become the single biggest environmental health risk, ahead of other dangers like second-hand smoke. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

When I was a junior high school student in the mid-’70s in my hometown of Detroit, I received an assignment in which I was directed to examine pollution and its impact on the U.S. At the time, our careless and consistent mistreatment of the planet had just begun to endanger our lakes and rivers as well as our fish and wildlife. Litter and landfills were quickly becoming both eyesores and dangers to our health. Meanwhile, automobile, steel and other factories were pumping all kinds of toxic waste into the air and our waters with little regard for the harm those toxins were having on our plants, animals and the human race.

But I am no longer a junior high youth. I am a father and a grandfather, concerned about the future. Actually, I am afraid — fearful about tomorrow.

This supplement focuses on sustainability, illustrating the contributions of community advocates who have decided that caring for the health of our planet serves as one of the world’s most crucial tasks.

The air has become poisoned impacting breathing and increasing respiratory diseases. Many waterways can no longer sustain fish or other wildlife because they’ve been destroyed by chemicals and other pollutants. New diseases have burst on the scene, becoming more prevalent and with no cures in sight. As much as we may want to turn a blind eye to these and other indisputable facts, we call ill-afford to act as if the conclusions and recommendations of the world’s leading scientists have no merit.

We can’t place an order for another Earth. This is the only one we have and if you listen carefully, you’ll probably hear our planet crying out, asking us to take better care of her, pleading for us to protect her and all of her inhabitants.

This land is my land, this land is your land. This land needs our help. We must step up to the plate no matter what the cost. The future of those who will carry our names and keep our memories and stories alive depends on our actions today.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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