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SVM Editorial: Cherish our own super Earth

Another Earth-like planet as been spotted in the heavens, but no one will travel there anytime soon. That leaves us with Earth itself, which needs tender loving care. Earth Day is a good time to recommit to doing so.

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:11 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:23 a.m. CDT

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that astronomers, scanning the sky for distant planets, have found another one where life might be possible.

They place it in the “super-Earth” category – it’s 40 percent wider than Earth, orbits its star in the “Goldilocks zone,” and is believed to be rocky.

Future observations will determine its atmospheric makeup – whether it could support life as we know it.

The planet is called LHS 1140b. It’s 230 trillion miles away (39 light years) in the constellation Cetus.

That’s too far for anyone from this Earth to pay it a visit anytime soon.

That leaves us with our own Earth, which certainly could use some tender loving care.

Earth Day, slated for Saturday, reminds us of the importance of taking better care of our planet.

Positive strides have been made through legislation, government agencies, and public awareness since the first Earth Day in 1970.

Much work remains to be done.

We say, let it begin with each of us.

If all of us took greater care to properly dispose of the trash we generate, that would be a good start.

Some areas along roadsides and elsewhere are a mess. Unsightly litter makes them that way.

The Illinois Litter Control Act, which became law on Jan. 1, 1974, makes it illegal to leave litter behind – such as garbage, trash, refuse, cigarettes, debris, rubbish, lawn and garden waste, newspapers, magazines, glass, metal, plastic or paper containers or other packaging, construction material, abandoned vehicles, motor vehicle parts, furniture, oil, animal carcasses, any nauseous or offensive matter of any kind, any object likely to injure anyone or create traffic hazards, potentially infectious medical waste, or anything else of an unsightly or unsanitary nature.

Whew!

A first-time littering offense is a Class B misdemeanor. Get caught littering a second time, and it's a Class A misdemeanor. Litter three or more times, and you've committed a Class 4 felony.

So for the good of the planet (and their own permanent records), let's get litterbugs to adopt better habits. Keep a trash container in the car and put litter in it for disposal at home. Don't discard litter while out walking. If something falls off the vehicle, go back and pick it up.

And when you see litter out there, stoop down, pick it up, and dispose of it properly.

Astronomers might not consider our planet a “super-Earth,” but we still think it’s special. Let’s treat it that way.

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