Raising Earth Day

Jeff vonKaenel

I’m a dedicated environmentalist, a dad and the publisher of the News & Review, a paper that for years has printed the official Sacramento Earth Day program. So I have attended many Earth Day gatherings with my kids.

Some of my earliest visits were scheduled around my children’s nap times. Nowadays they tell me, “I’m going with my friends, but I will see you there.” Whether I was pushing my children along in a stroller or trying to pick them out of a crowd, I have always enjoyed the Sacramento Earth Day Festival.

The event is free. The weather is usually nice. The occasion exudes an earnestness that I appreciate. I have many sweet Earth Day memories, like sitting on the grass and watching the kids run around. Listening to cool music, feeling the warm sun on my face. Watching how thrilled the kids were about having their faces painted. And experiencing an exhibit where we felt the temperature difference between black and white roofing tiles that had been sitting in the sun.

My 18-year-old daughter, Natasha, will miss the Sacramento Earth Day Festival this year, because she is spending 10 months in Denmark. Thanks to the Rotary Club of Sacramento, which runs an international youth exchange program, Natasha is having the time of her life, living with three different Danish families and attending an extra year of high school in Denmark.

In Denmark, Natasha is seeing firsthand how a country that embraces the principles of Earth Day can make sustainability a reality. Because of higher gas taxes and denser housing, bicycling is a practical choice. Natasha and her classmates bike to school, even in the cold Danish winter.

In 1988, after the Chernobyl disaster, Denmark passed legislation preventing the construction of any new nuclear power plants. Instead, Denmark subsidized emerging green technologies. Now little Denmark is the world’s leading producer of wind power. Nearly half of the world’s wind turbines are produced today by Danish manufacturers. Denmark expects that nearly 50 percent of its energy needs will eventually be supplied by wind energy. On the job front, Denmark has 23,000 people employed in the wind industry.

By conserving more energy and using alternative energy sources, Denmark is set to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent in a 30-year period, by the year 2020. Meanwhile, the United States is having a ridiculous debate about whether global warming even exists. On one side we have science, on the other we have Fox News. While we in the United States are arguing about it, a green future is already being built in other parts of the world.

So please come to Southside Park on April 23. Enjoy the booths, the music, the food, the earnestness and the hope.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.