This coming Thursday, April 22, 2021 will mark the 51st anniversary of our Earth Day celebration in the United States. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth”. At Practice U we agree with the Earth Day agenda because of the science, visual evidence, and consequences of our past practices. Introduced to us in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson a democrat from the State of Wisconsin, Earth Day has always been about spreading the awareness message of clean air, clean land, and clean water for the past 50 years. Like most movements from the 60’s and 70’s, changing old habits to newly improved daily habits can feel like a struggle that continues to this day. It’s no different than other campaigns we experience such as equal pay for women, fair and equal voting rights for all people, immigration to citizenship, and minimizing poverty in communities all over America. It’s so unfortunate, it takes decades for us to see the importance of change from local leaders of our communities to state officials and congress to keep moving towards self-improvement. Earth Day is just another example. Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom, because due to the numerous efforts from the past to the present, activists and politicians have made some progress with getting corporations and congress to recognize our climate and environmental conditions. That being said, let’s explore the accomplishments made from 1970 to the current steps taken in 2021. Afterall the eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know.
The Legacy of Earth Day
One of the major accomplishments of Senator Gaylord Nelson’s efforts in implementing Earth Day in 1970, was the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency commonly known as the EPA. As a federal agency, this department had and still has the legal authority and responsibility to regulate pollution from cars and other forms of transportation. Such regulation helped the transportation industry to focus on cutting the amount of pollution emitted into our environment. Consequently today we electric cars, trains and low emission buses in our cities. The signing of the Clean Air Act on December 31, 1970 along with the Clean Water Act of 1972 and Endangered Species Act signed in December 28, 1973 has also helped. These acts have lead the way globally because our Earth is a shared environment. Recognizing, there is no super power nation that can clean up our air and water by itself, the Earth Day campaign has expanded to the implementation of Earth Day lessons taught in our schools nationwide, recycling programs and the creation of their website earthday.org. The website has been informative and has a left an ongoing legacy to future generations.
In 1980, Senator Gaylord Nelson continued to push his vision of a clean Earth and safe environment for all of us by becoming a counselor for The Wilderness Society. His message and leadership led to Woodbury, New Jersey to become the first city in the America to mandate recycling. Since 1981, many other states joined the movement to recycle plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paper and glass bottles. To this day, the recycling program continue help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, preserve the cutting down of trees to produce paper and cutting down the use of minerals from Mother Earth to create glass, plastic and aluminum cans.
From the 1990’s to 2020
The 1990’s marked the 20th anniversary of Earth Day. During the 20th year anniversary, 140 countries joined the movement celebrating Earth Day globally. Ten years later in 2000, the EPA scientists presented a link between global warming and waste, proving that reducing our garbage and recycling will cut down the greenhouse gas emissions that affects our ozone layer. In 2003, the state of California became the first state to enact the first e-waste recycling law. Shortly thereafter other states followed the e-waste recycling movement. As the ongoing efforts continued to grow, it eventually led to the United Nations choosing Earth Day as the day to sign the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016 under President Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the next president withdrew the United States from the agreement. In February 2019, the Green New Deal was introduced. Even though it was blown up as a bad idea from members of congress, there were many who viewed the Green New Deal (GND) as a good idea with the heavy question proposed, “How will we pay for it?” Those who support the GND maintain the goal and purpose is for the United States to reach “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2029. In addition to, the GND goals and purpose, it also includes addressing a wide variety of social ills, starting with guaranteeing all Americans “a job with a family sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security, high quality education, adequate housing and health care”. Other features of the bill include the end of fossil fuels replaced by green energy jobs that provide green energy homes, cars and planes. What an amazing plan?
In 2020, the Climate Change and American Diet Act partnered with Yale along with Earthday.org and released a report to educate Americans to consider better food choices and eating habits. The report presented the connection between plant-based food that helps prevent global warming. It’s an interesting correlation that hopefully more Americans will participate in eating more plant-based food one bite at a time.
Should you be interested in learning more, we at Practice U suggest 2 resources. They are earthday.org and Mom’s Clean Air Force featuring a brief history of the Green New Deal. Conclusively, when we collectively see, feel, and understand the importance of moving towards self-improvement, we collectively win moving ourselves towards preserving our shared environment. After all, “The eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know”. Tell us what you think on Facebook.