01/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

A New Year and a New Environment

As wisps of the white stuff fill the air and the sounds of Auld Lang Syne echo the memories of years gone by -- we all think forward in an attempt to create lasting New Year's Eve memories.

But while looking back we'll remember the visionless past administration attempting to dismantle the Endangered Species Act, "cleverly" sneaking oil and gas leases on Bureau of Land Management property, and assisting industries that feel "burdened" by looming pollution controls and wilderness-protection laws (Boo-hoo-squish-squish). With George Bush as the decider and caretaker of our environment - conservation, public land management, and national park issues were either overlooked or dismantled, or sold to the highest bidder. (And let's not forget the wacko things that Cheney, Falwell, Rove & Co. wanted Junior to do for his "legacy.")

Not only caused by idiots and tyrants in power, however, it's also good to remember that environmental problems are created by ordinary people performing ordinary, yet unthinking everyday actions. The good news, though, is that many of these problems can be treated by billions upon billions of small, levelheaded actions and effortless substitutions.

Little measures like even one of the following would make a difference: recycling (bottles, cans, paper, plastic, clothing, electronics, and everything else you can in your area); driving the most fuel-efficient car possible and using it to car pool; walking, biking or using public transportation; insulating, caulking and weather-stripping your home; installing faucet aerators, and low-flow shower heads (for 2 minute showers); using compact fluorescent light bulbs; drinking tap water; composting if you can; unplugging all of your energy-zapping modern gizmos once they're charged or not in use, etc. (With any luck, our new government of hope and change will declare these kinds of actions "patriotic.")

On New Year's Eve, if not totally inebriated, we can share in the rare opportunity of looking forward and backward simultaneously -- and if we're lucky, we'll actually find ourselves momentarily in a sane and healthy present, where we can ponder 2009 resolutions.

And as you make your annual list of promises to yourself, offer a fond "toodle-oo" to '08 (and '07, '06, '05...all the way back to '01) and everything good, bad and ugly attached to 8 years of "compassionate conservatism," and know that things can only get better and cleaner under the "big tent" we all call home.