This Is All We’ve Got
Fifty years ago, this month, the first Earth Day was observed. April 22, 1970 was the date selected as a day to commemorate the importance of respecting the earth. Then Senator Gaylord Nelson Of Wisconsin wanted to see more coverage in politics and the media regarding care for our plane.t
The First Earth Day – America’s Story from America’s Library
I remember walking that day with other people collecting trash and cans and bottles. The State of Oregon had recently adopted their recycling bill known as “the bottle bill “which allowed for people to turn in bottles and cans to recycling centers and get cash. Recycling became a main stay for households in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. My family became actively involved in recycling our trash.
During the past fifty years, there have been advancements with regarding to air quality and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More attention has been paid to clean water and to the threat that toxic agents like Strontium 90 and led pose to human health.
More and more cities started to pay attention to the importance of green belt space and to use land use planning.
Now there us also growing concern regarding levels of Co2 in the atmosphere, as well as melting of polar ice caps and the resulting rise in sea level.
The last fifty years has brought us a lot of achievement in improving environmental quality and helping to foster better quality of life.
Now, also, we need to be aware of the threats that are occurring that will roll back the clock on these advancements more than fifty years.
We have witnessed relaxation of air and water quality standards, budgets including research monies have been reduced for the EPA. More enthusiasm and legislation have resulted in the air wilderness and ocean offshore areas being open to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.
Fracking has become the go to model for extracting shale oil out of the ground. The practice has allowed the United States to be the greatest producer of petroleum in the world, but at what cost?
We now have areas of the country (i.e. Oklahoma, Pennsylvania etc.)) experiencing a greater frequency of seismic earthquake activity than ever before. Projects like the Keystone pipeline also bear a risk to fragile environments like Sandstone deposits in Kansas and Nebraska.
During the past few years, we have witnessed devastating events like Hurricanes Sandy and Harvey, wildfires in California and the devastating wildfires in Australia.
What will it take for us to realize that we need to value the place where we live? We only have one home, that is our planet earth. We can’t keep treating it as if it were a landfill with unlimited volume to absorb our waste and our junk.
The current pandemic should painfully remind us that we are all a part of an interconnected web of life and of creation.
This Earth Day needs to be a clarion call for us to return to the commitment to care for our Earth and for our lives.
May it be so.