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Prime Time: Welcome to the world, little Danica

There are more than 7 billion of us on the planet.

The folks who make it their business to count heads calculated that it happened on Oct. 31.

A newborn girl, Danica Camacho, born in Manila, Philippines, was designated as the symbolic 7 billionth person on the earth. We saw her online, and in news reports, in her new red knitted hat.

Most of us were too busy to think about it. Moms were putting finishing touches on Halloween costumes. Others were stocking up on treats for the kiddos. While the world population clicked steadily upward, children already on the Earth darted from house to house on sturdy legs, gathering sweet swag. Others celebrated over the weekend with events planned by attentive grownups.

The calculation of 7 billion is "give or take a few thousand." But attention must be paid. We of the much older generation have a responsibility to do our share in leaving this world a better place for those princesses, Lady Gagas, Toy Story 3 characters and all the rest.

And now the lecture.

First, let's talk clean air. Leaf-burning is a thing of the past, which is a good thing, because clean air is a treasure. I remember years ago, when I lived in the city, and we'd come "up to the lake," one of the sweet surprises was stepping out of the car and having the air just plain smell good. It still does, for the most part. I haven't been to the Cities in a while, but my guess is that freeways and factories continue to do their part, obeying anti-pollution regulations, but are still smelly. Let us be thankful for our "up north" clean air.

I continue on my anti-plastic campaign. It takes a plastic bag 500 years to decompose. Remember that as you push your cart out of the grocery store, loaded with groceries. In plastic bags. Now, I've been known to leave my reusable cloth bags in the car. But more than once I've walked into the grocery store, remembered what I left behind and returned to the car to get them. Yes, it's a bother. But think 500 years as you blithely use plastic bags.

We are blessed with good water in our neck of the woods. Lots of water. Water that comes from the earth clean enough to drink. That's not the case in many places in the world. About 5,000 kids die each day from diarrhea-related illnesses, which are directly related to not having clean drinking water. Bemidji Rotarians have made repeated trips to Honduras, and some of the trips have included installing clean water systems. They're expensive. They require lots of work. But what a blessing, to provide drinkable water for kids and grownups, too.

For most of us, the best we can do right here at home is help to keep our lakes clean. It means that having a fertilized lawn, right down to the waterfront, is downright unhealthy for our good water. The fertilizer leaches into the water and feeds bad stuff that grows and flourishes. Let us not complain about what some consider the weedy waterfront along the highway into Lake Bemidji. It's the right thing to do, and we should be grateful for clean water and the folks who are making decisions to keep it that way.

So welcome to the world, Danica Camacho. It's a good place in so many ways. I hope and pray that in your lifetime, you'll know clean air and clean water. All we can do is keep our corner of the world a bit better. And a lot of old people are working to do just that.