Earth Day 2010 will be celebrated tomorrow, April 22nd. It will be the 40th anniversary of the original in 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson, assisted by Congressman Pete McCloskey, pushed the realization that the environment was deteriorating, earth was in danger.
Gaylord Nelson, Father of Earth Day
It was a time of student unrest and unity. Vietnam was becoming a stale war, support was dropping almost daily. Less than two weeks after the first Earth Day, four would die at Kent State protesting the War in Vietnam. Four months later Ruben Salazar, Mexican American journalist, columnist, news director and anti-war supporter would be murdered by L. A. County cops after a National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War.
Ruben Salazar Learn more HERE.
Protesting and organizing movements were rapidly growing skillsets, and it wasn’t hard, even without the internet or text messaging, to get people from all across the country to go out on one day and learn about the "environment". Nelson is quoted as saying that Earth Day created itself, things came together so swiftly.
It was a watershed moment. Prior to this point popular culture saw the environment as timber and gold. Resource exploitation was an honorable profession where manly men wrestled with the Earth for her bounty. Less than a year before, in 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire. The river had caught fire many times before; it functioned as a sump for oil and bunker fuel from the Great Lakes. The nation, and particularly the nation’s young, were primed for a new awareness of the environment and a new way of changing society. The Baby Boomers were coming into their own; their rejection of their parents was followed by the rejection of the Vietnam war, and the rejection of the corporate world. It wasn’t hippies that caused the river to burn over a dozen times, it was corporations.
Burning river: Cuyahoga from the government.
After Earth Day, the environment was something different. Corporations didn’t own the Earth, it was our legacy, it belonged to everyone, and everyone was responsible for cleaning it up. And, people did. The highways were filled with liter in those days; one of the prime purposes of the old "resource Earth" was as garbage dump. The disposable world was beginning in 1970, and liter was everywhere.
Pogo: Earth day. Walt Kelly is an under-valued social comentator,
and Pogo was an important spokesperson. Read more HERE.
The original earth day flag was a picture of Earth, not a small thing in 1969, and was created by John McConnell. The ecology flag, created by Rob Cobb in 1969 is also associated with Earth Day.
The situation is very difficult today, and much more difficult to understand. This is the day of carbon environmentalism. The weatherman at your local new station might not believe in global warming, but nearly all climatologists do. It’s still very important to recycle, but being an environmentalist today is far more complicated, and environmental groups seem to fight each other as much as they do corporations.
The menu for this Earth day isn’t about burning rivers, it’s about not eating meat and walking instead of driving.
Pretending there isn’t a global crisis is comforting, but not very useful.
Your Earth Day assignment: Pick an environmental subject you care about and research it for one hour. It could be water, it could be global warming, it could be whether eating meat is actually bad for the environment. Don’t go out to prove what you already think, do research on what both sides are saying, or all three sides, or however many sides there are.
The environment starts with you, it isn’t really Earth we celebrate, it’s our home.