It's Earth Day and we should write something about it
For the last month my inbox has been flooded with Earth Day promotions, product launches, infographics. It seems that Earth Day has turned into a sort of green Valentines Day or Mothers Day, a consumerist holiday that has lost its original meaning. This is a real shame; as Nicholas Lemann wrote last year in the New Yorker, Earth Day got results.
Earth Day had consequences: it led to the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and to the creation, just eight months after the event, of the Environmental Protection Agency. Throughout the nineteen-seventies, mostly during the Republican Administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Congress passed one environmental bill after another, establishing national controls on air and water pollution.
That was before it was politicized and partisan, before we became "environmental whackos" and everything green from bike lanes to lightbulbs became part of a UN plot to take away your freedoms. Lemann notes:
Back in 1970, suburban mothers (who, along with college students, made up the core of the new environmental movement) wanted to protect their children from contaminated air, water, and food; hunters and fishermen wanted their habitats back.
It's not like these problems have gone away, yet that suburban coalition has. What a shame.
Here's a roundup of Earth Day posts past:
Ask the experts on Earth Day: What ever happened to.....© Green City Partnerships
All the kids were doing it, Earth Day was a very big deal once. There were a lot of issues that used to be important to the green movement, that have gone the way of Earth Day. Two years ago Mat and Mike asked around, trying to find out where the music died, and where it was still playing in the background. Here is what they found.
10 tips to make every day Earth Day
Here is a list of things that you can do that do not involve buying bamboo shirts or anything else; just a list of things you can do live a greener lifestyle.
Will a Real Earth Day Movement Please Stand Up?
Brian did an Earth Day rant:
Today, our Earth Day more resembles a toothless, consumerist Hallmark holiday like Father's Day or Halloween. And I'm not even sure we're better off that it exists at all -- under the current Earth Day paradigm, people can watch an cable TV special or buy an organic t-shirt one day of the year, and feel like they've participated. Sorry, not helping. Not really. The environmental challenges we face are too great to stop there.
No, it's like Bill McKibben said in a recent speech at Powershift: We need a grassroots movement to match the scale of the original Earth Day if we hope to combat the entrenched fossil fuel interests and inspire meaningful action from lawmakers on the hill.