By Don Miller
The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, it was celebrated in a variety of ways by diverse groups of people with over 20 million Americans estimated participating. Saturday, April 22 is the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day and there will be a program/march in downtown Rockford to observe it.
The original Earth Day was proposed by then Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. It is reported that Nelson’s inspiration came to him after seeing the damage caused by a 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He recognized a need to educate the general public as well as public officials to strive for a better understanding of the environment. Ten years later Nelson stated, “It was on that day that Americans made it clear that they understood and were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation of our resources.”
Many believe that Earth Day lead to an understanding that crossed political boundaries and led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and the Endangered Species Acts. A monumental effort and amazing work by legislature to do what is right for the common good.
Those very acts as well as others addressing climate change and its effect on future generations and present generations need to be currently addressed for the good of all. We have now come full circle on the need for education and action to protect what are gifts the Earth provides to us and that are taken very much for granted. The “March” on April 22 marks a new beginning. It takes us back to the drawing board for awareness, appreciation and the continued protection of some of our very basic needs; clean air, water and the protection the diversity of life found here.
The list of gifts we receive from the Earth is numerous: the atmosphere that allows us and so many other living organisms to survive and thrive on this planet. All of the different flows of energy should be on that list, the prime one being that of solar power and its effect on everything from photosynthesis to keeping the planet at a livable temperature. We should think about and thank all that happens in putting healthy food on the table.
The waters of the Earth are gifts that most of us rarely appreciate unless catastrophe of drought hits us, or tragedy occurs such as in Flint, Mich. Does gratitude enter our minds at each twist of the faucet? We should also mention the soil we walk on and that grows our food, the rocks and minerals that are in use in our everyday lives, do we have gratitude toward them?
We should mention the ecosystems of the world, full of beautiful biota for us to see, hear, smell, and touch, all that gives us; peace, artistry, inspiration, wonder and awe, do we stop and say, “thank you for these gifts and the joy they give us?” That list of Earth’s gifts is there for us and for future generations, but only if we realize that we need policies and laws to protect them and the truth of science to study and research them.
“The People’s March for Science and Climate” is being hosted to bring people together again and to understand that some very core protection for our basic needs are coming under attack. Just as in the early 70’s when people realized the abuse going on to water and air, that time for a better appreciation has come again.
“If the people lead, the leaders will follow.” To show support and attend the program/march is significant, but what your actions are after the march are even more crucial. We all need to know who our local, state and national representatives are and how they vote on these incredible critical issues in front of us now. We need to hold them accountable for an environment for all to be raised in and to grow old in and that will not put us in jeopardy. We need to revisit Sen. Gaylord Nelson’s words, to become “deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation of our resources.”
The People’s March for Science and the Climate-at Joe Marino Park, 100 N. Water St., program will begin at 4 p.m. this Saturday. State Rep. Litesa Wallace and State Sen. Daniel Biss will be speaking, followed by a march to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. There, participants can view the Spring Art Scene art show, “To love is to Act: Artists Resist!” and to also attend the 7 p.m. Pete Seeger Earth Day Concert. For more information visit forestcity350.org.