Tomorrow is Earth Day, celebrated for the first time in 1970. Coming the same week that House Republicans demanded that Congress rescind the money Democrats appropriated in the Inflation Reduction Act to address climate change, Earth Day in 2023 is a poignant reminder of an earlier era, one in which Americans recognized a crisis that transcended partisanship and came together to fix it.
The EPA made law by President Nixon. I was 18 in 1970. I remember having to give kudos to a man I didn’t care for. Today’s GOP would impeach such a POTUS for putting the EPA in place. Go figure!
I remember that first Earth Day. I also remember 10 days later when the man who created the EPA ordered the invasion of Cambodia, followed four days later by the killings at kent State and the national campus strike against the war. A period when every day seemed like a year if you were politically active.
Tonight’s letter brought me back to 1969 when I was just 18 and in college. I was in DC and in 1970 I found myself marching with many others against the Vietnam War. I ended up meeting a Vietnam veteran in September of that year. We will have been together for 53 years. The very first election I got to vote in was Nixon v. McGovern. Of course, I voted for McGovern and was totally deflated when Tricky Dick won by a landslide. I couldn’t understand how people could be so ignorant. Fast forward to 1994, one of our towns was celebrating Earth Day be staging a large event. My youngest daughter was 5 1/2, so I took her. When we left, she was handed a glass vial with a sprig of a redwood tree in it. We got home and she asked me if we could plant it. “Sure!” I said, knowing full well it wouldn’t turn into anything. In 2023, that sprig turned into a 40 ft redwood tree! Happy Earth Day!
And shortly after this wave of environmental legislation was enacted in the early 1970s, American corporations simply took their operations overseas, where regulations were either lax or nonexistent, and where local populations could be exploited for long hours, unsafe working conditions, and low wages. Soon American consumers would have more crap than ever, and for less cost. Textbook capitalism. All part of God's plan.
I was also 18 in 1970. Today I am living in Italy. The vineyards use no chemicals. They plant roses at the end of the rows because blight and insects show up first on the rose, then they prevent the spread using non chemical treatments. We recycle separately nearly everything including organic waste. Most vegetables and fruits are grown organically and you don’t pay more. Everywhere you go you you see solar panels (even streetlights) and wind turbines. It’s perfect. It’s a great commitment thus far, and highly visible. And gives one hope.
The EPA is the only thing Nixon did that I agreed with!
Republican leaders, so financially beholden to Big Business — including the petrochemical industry — are actively working to ruin the planet and harm their descendants along the way. The future is bleak, to put it mildly, though we can still make it less horrible. There's no escaping this harsh reality, despite lies and propaganda to the contrary.
I say this knowing that I'm not doing nearly enough to help prevent the inevitable horror of it all. As I've written here before, generations to come (who knows how few) will loathe us.
There is an irony here. The left for decades have vilified Richard Nixon and in many cases justifiably so. But he deserves credit for his pioneering environmental legislation which created the EPA. For those of us old enough to remember, TV ads from Dupont and others in the 50's promised us "better living through chemistry". The environment was on no ones radar. WJB
For Earth Day and Every Day:
BIDEN IS TAKING US All (including the Climate Deniers, K. McCarthy & the Republican Gang) TO A COOLER WORLD!
FACT SHEET: President Biden to Catalyze Global Climate …
2 days ago — The Inflation Reduction Act contains new and expanded tax credits for drivers to purchase new clean vehicles, as well as the first-ever tax …
'The President will be joined by other leaders in new efforts aimed at accelerating progress in four key areas necessary for keeping a 1.5°C limit on warming within reach, specifically:
___Decarbonizing energy: Announcing steps to drive down emissions in the power and transportation sectors, including scaling up of clean energy, setting ambitious 2030 zero-emission vehicle goals, and decarbonizing international shipping.
___Ending deforestation of the Amazon and other critical forests: Working through the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership to mobilize public, private, and philanthropic support.
____Tackling potent, non-CO2 climate pollutants: Launching a Methane Finance Sprint to cut methane emissions and accelerating hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phasedown under the Kigali Amendment.
_____Advancing carbon management: Partnering with countries to accelerate carbon capture, removal, use, and storage technologies through a COP 28 Carbon Management Challenge to deal with emissions that can’t otherwise be avoided.(WhiteHouse) See link below.
Beautiful Letter today, Heather. Sobering.
What an amazing photo. Wow. Just wow.
Happy Earth Day to Heather and Buddy and everyone in this forum and on the Planet Earth! What a wonderful article. Information packed and beautifully written.
And recently, loads of DDT dumped years ago were found on the ocean floor off CA shores!
Please mindfully help our Earth with a small gift every day. Avoid one trip in your car, have one meal without animal products, physically weed your garden instead of using chemicals, eat locally grown produce, set your thermostat higher in summer, and lower in winter, don't buy throw-away fashion or furniture, repurpose what you can, plant native species to protect native wildlife especially pollinators....
You get the idea. Reduce your climate footprint on step at a time...
Don Robertson West Vancouver B C Canada
The over 65 year old cohort need to take some responsibility for the degraded planet we are bequeathing the generations coming along behind. Forget taking another cruise or buying into an ageist script of powerlessness. Our commitment to the healing of the earth needs to be focused and radical. In the time we have left, we need to repurpose our lives in the urgent work of organizing for the healing this planet.
I miss the promise of a better world that filled the air in the late 60s and early 70s, following in the wake of environmental catastrophes and race riots.
I was very young, but I remember the horror and the hope.
If you haven’t read it, Silent Spring is an important book.