Few people are probably unaware that April 22 is Earth Day. It’s difficult to decide whether it’s sad or not that the celebration is no longer perceived a frou-frou celebration of granola munching treehuggers.

On the one hand, we’re encouraged the environmental movement is no longer marginalized, and by the fact that consumers, businesses and government are all beginning to realize sustainable practices and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. On the other hand, we’re disappointed to note solid scientific evidence of global climate change is still not accepted by many of our leaders and society continues its myopic pursuit of short-term interests at the cost of long-term strength, stability and sustainability.

As readers may have noticed, the sReporter  has had a heavy emphasis on environmental stories over the past year. These stories need to be told. They are our stories. Whatever decisions we make as a society, how we interact with our world today will shape the world we inhabit in the future, as well as the one we give our descendents.

Even those stories not directly related to so-called “green” subjects often have a connection to climate change, ecology, pollution, animal rights or other environmental topics. Whether it is a story about an artist motivated to capture the changing scenery surrounding her or an article about the best way to deal with sand piling up on local beaches we would be remiss not to acknowledge the climate surrounding us.

Likewise, communities seem to be starting to realize environmental issues are intertwined with just about every issue they face. Concerns about mining trucks and the expansion of gravel operations throughout the Ojai Valley have become a quality of life issue impacting the region’s tourist economy as well as its residents, but the same debate has also raised the issue of increased carbon dioxide emissions that might result from trucks forced to travel from further away to deliver construction supplies and the possibility that what impacts we exclude from Ventura County we might be placing on other, less prosperous communities.

Rising energy prices and higher fuel costs have drained our wallets, but they have also helped us reconsider how and where we travel. This may be a boon to Ventura County as Los Angeles area residents shorten the reach of their vacations and decide to relax here, but unless we invest in making it easier for people to get to our region without cars and to avoid using them while here, we will inherit the poor air quality of the L.A. basin. As our community grows, we have the opportunity to avoid the same problems that have plagued Los Angeles, Orange County and other areas that experienced rapid growth in the past half century, but if we pursue only the quick buck now we will likely shortchange ourselves in the future.

As this weekend’s Ultimate Boarder contest in Ventura shows, for example, our natural offerings can be a major draw. Any surfer will tell you they always have been, just as any hiker or outdoor enthusiast will say the same about the Los Padres National Forest. Meanwhile, at its anniversary celebration Sunday the Ventura Hillsides Conservancy once again drew attention to the nascent Ventura River Parkway project, which would both restore the river to its natural state and cultivate the long-neglected waterway that was a cultural and community draw.

Ultimately, though, we cannot just participate in a flurry of cleanups and tree plantings and believe we’ve done something to save the Earth. We must — all of us, this publication and its staff included — fundamentally shift our behavior and our expectations if we desire a future we will want to celebrate.