Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, an environmental advocate, founded the environmentally conscious holiday in 1970. He wanted a day to unite all the grassroots environmental groups across the United States to create a grater awareness of environmental issues. The holiday got off to a rocky start in 1970, with President Nixon reluctant to acknowledge the Earth Day movement – assuming it was part of the anti-administration, anti-Vietnam movement. While Nixon and the federal government didn’t play a big role in the first Earth Day, it did establish the Environmental Protection Agency that July by special executive order with the goal of regulating and enforcing national pollution legislation.
 In the years since the first Earth Day, concern over the state of the environment has become a moral issue. While some are still content to link concerns over climate change to modern day liberalism (we are living in a post Al Gore Inconvenient Truth world after all), surely the idea that we should “clean up the mess we made” (as Walter Cronkite once said) is goal everyone can aspire to  - regardless of nation, race, religion, etc.
Has much changed in since the first Earth Day? Well, the NY Times says that Earth Day has done a 180 from its original anti-business slant to now being something of a cash cow. Below are some videos showing events from the first Earth Day. Even though the interviews and speeches by scientists and activists are from 1970, it feels like a modern day conversation about our environment. People were concerned about pollution in urban areas and beyond and how pollution and a lack of resource renewal could affect every aspect of human life. It’s pretty scary stuff when you stop and think about it. Do you think Earth Day really motivates people to think about the state of our environment? Do you think anyone will change his or her behavior/way of thinking as a result?

Here are some tips from the EPA about how to improve our relationship with the environment, including ways to save energy, recycle and use water more efficiently.   

Enjoy the coverage of the first Earth Day by CBS News with Walter Kronkite (check out how different Dan Rather looks in one of the pieces)

Happy Earth Day!

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