Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day

It is no accident that Earth Day coincides with the Vernal Equinox. It is also the same time each year as Arbor Day. These are all moments that stir each of us - for whatever of these reasons or named days - to stop and appreciate Nature and the planet Earth.

I am old enough to remember the first Earth Day in 1970. Being in high school at the time, the new words being used were "ecology" and "environmentalism". They were scary, because they spoke of the disasters that could befall humanity if we did not take care of our home.

In the previous decade DDT had been removed from use. We'd seen the decimation of many species of wildlife, and the book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson had come out. Being in farm country, there were many mixed messages assailing my young mind, but I could see what was happening - even then.
That was when disposable lighters came out. Disposable shavers. Disposable diapers. Even the spoons that came with ice cream cups (the cups were waxed paper) were originally made of wood. Up until then, most bottles were glass, and returnable. Suddenly plastic was everywhere, and it truly was changing life. In our giddyness, we allowed ourselves to be foolish. Even then, people started to warn us. We didn't want to hear. We loved our new life.

In 1969, there was a huge oil spill. Gaylord Nelson, Governor of Wisconsin gazed upon it and decided it was time that we stop. He was the founder of Earth Day 1970. There were already many peaceful protests being carried out against the Viet Nam war, and this was modeled after those. The symbolism of balance from the equinox was also a part, and peace played a part in the first Earth Day theme. Even that first year, there were significant legislative changes made, focusing on the Clean Air Act. Legislation like the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and all legislation protecting wilderness, wetlands, prairies, oceans, or species is due in large part to Earth Day.

We have to do what we can. Reduce/Reuse/Recycle.
My first "real" boyfriend had a button on his denim jacket. It said, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." I was never fond of the delivery, but the statement becomes truer every day.
This is your home - clean it up!

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I think I am surprised that there were no comments when I read your post. People must be really busy cleaning up the environment and just couldn't take the time to post, don't you think?! I enjoyed what you wrote about the first Earth Day, very very much. I wish we would have heeded the warning back then but it didn't happen and now we have to make up for it the best we can. I do hope the next generation realizes this and our generation does its part to help clean up the mess we made....


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