Posted by: JanF | April 22, 2013

Earth Day? How About Earth Millenium?

Today’s post is emitting a high-pitched squealing noise that sounds suspiciously like an alarm. But the sound it is making is a little too much like your neighbor’s car alarm that goes off at 10:00pm every night and that you have learned to ignore.

Back in 2010 after the BP Oil “Spill”, an article from my local newspaper had the headline “Will Gulf Leak spur social movement? (subheading: “In 1969, a smaller spill in Santa Barbara helped kick-start Earth Day)”:

In 1969, Sen. Gaylord Nelson was so moved after seeing the devastation of an oil spill off the California coast near Santa Barbara that he called for a national teach-in on the environment. The following year the resulting “Earth Day” kick-started the modern environmental movement and shaped the way Americans thought about their air, water and soil.

Forty years later, the magnitude of the Gulf oil spill far exceeds Santa Barbara’s spill of up to 100,000 barrels, but there hasn’t been a comparable societal transformation.

Leaving aside for a minute the insulting suggestion in the subheading that the modern environmental movement was a “social movement” like using Facebook or tweeting…

Sorry. I can’t just leave it aside. Because, unfortunately, that is what the mainstream media thinks of stories about the environment and stories about Green Energy and Green Jobs and Climate Change and Blatant Disregard for Common Sense Leading To Unfortunate Oil Spills (here and here).

A discussion on the environment shouldn’t open with a comment making it sound like a puff piece to fill up the local paper (“What are you wearing to Earth Day this year?”). It is one of the most important issues facing our nation and our planet. And it really needs our attention NOW. (To be fair, the article is better than the headline as is often the case).

Energy … our creation and use of it … and addressing the repercussions from that creation and use have to be job one. Now. As in NOW. Or more succinctly: NOW!!!. (Sorry, I flunked Low Key 101 and tested out of Subtle 201 so that I could take In Your Face 301. No wonder none of my college credits transferred when I moved to North Central Blogistan from More Middley Blogistan!).

Maybe the problem is that it is a huge topic and we have lots of words for the different components of it and the media is not seeing a critical mass of interest.

– Global Climate Change
– Sustainability crisis
– Oil spills
– Natural Gas fracking
– Coal mine collapses
– Air quality
– Water quality
– Sustainable Energy
– Green jobs
– Reduced consumption

Energy and the environment cannot be separated from each other because how we generate and use most of our energy these days is harmful to the environment. In fact all current energy generation methods are harmful to something in one way or another. The only way to address this is to deal once and for all with our use of energy and our willingness to turn a blind eye towards how we extract non-renewable resources from our earth and how the byproducts of our energy use harm the earth.

One more quote from the article:

Gaylord Nelson’s speech calling for a teach-in came eight months after the January 1969 spill, and the resulting Earth Day didn’t take place until more than a year later — April 1970. And it was not until 1981 that Congress imposed a ban on offshore drilling along most of the nation’s coastal waters, an action widely attributed to the memories of the Santa Barbara spill a dozen years earlier. The moratorium endured for a quarter century, until Congress lifted it in 2008

This was Gaylord Nelson’s hope:

“a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.”

And here is my hope:

We need more than an Earth Day…we need an Earth Millennium.

Let’s push for a progressive agenda that includes more than just one day of caring about our planet. I will leave you with a quote attributed to various sources:

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.


Links to Earth Day information and activities:
Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day – The making of the modern environmental movement

Nelson’s decision to leave Earth Day to the grassroots proved genius. Exceeding their wildest expectations, Nelson and his staff estimated 20 million Americans—from 10,000 elementary and high schools, 2,000 colleges, and over 1,000 communities—took action on April 22, 1970. Though students lent the day a unique spirit, it did not draw out only the young. Labor union members, housewives, farmers, scientists, and politicians of all stripes—from Barry Goldwater to Edward Kennedy—made up the mosaic of faces in Earth Day crowds.

Throughout his life Nelson remained modest about his own contribution but was extremely proud of the nation’s response:

“Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time not the resources to organize the 20 million demonstrators who participated from thousands of schools and local communities. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

– Earth Day Network: It’s Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day! Over one billion people in 192 countries are participating from London to Sao Paolo, Seoul to Babylon City, New Delhi to New York, Rome to Cairo; people everywhere are taking action in their communities and helping depict The Face of Climate Change.

How can you get involved? Attend an Earth Day event in your community, start doing something to lower your carbon footprint, and take a photo of yourself being part of the solution and upload it to The Face of Climate Change Wall.

– U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Make Every Day Earth Day
(includes interactive map to locations for events and activities.



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