Fitting, perhaps, that Earth Day 2005 should dawn wet and foggy. The fog hides the damage that mankind inflicts on this fragile sphere called Earth, obscuring the ravaged landscape, polluted air and dwindling resources.

Gas prices dropped again this week, down almost 10 cents from the high of a few days ago, down enough to encourage us to fill up the tanks and forget that our love affair with fossil fuels adds to the Earth’s woes. I’d like to say we do our part to reduce that love affair, but we own three cars (including an SUV) and not one gets over 20 mpg on the open road. Add a lawn tractor, snow thrower and various other lawn and garden implements that run on gas (or a mixture of gas and oil) and perhaps we should stay home on Earth Day.

Our two fireplaces run on propane, as does our generator. We could burn wood in the fireplaces but that would just pump more hydrocarbons into the air. Conservation of resources is a losing battle and even those who avoid electricity or gasoline powered transportation find other ways to consume, burn and pollute.

Perhaps, on this Earth Day 2005, we should accept the fact that we are just temporary occupants of this third rock from the Sun. Nature, like the human body, has its immune system with defenses that drive out infections and intruders. Thunderstorms and wind clear the air while tornados, earthquakes and tsunamis prove the forces of nature are more powerful than anything mankind can construct.

Humankind is not, and never has been, master of the universe or even of its own fate. We are but guests on this planet and the higher powers who own the place can, and will, send us packing when we overstay our welcome.