We appear to be headed toward an era of complacency and indifference when in comes to understanding the growing global threats we face in preserving and protecting our survival. It has been some 47 years since the country was ignited with an environmental passion for saving our planet. The first national Earth Day on April 22, 1970 drew 20 million Americans to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.
The 1970s were a turbulent time with an unpopular Vietnam war and equally unpopular president who wanted to be remembered as the “environmental president.” Although much of our early environmental legislation was enacted during President Nixon’s term, it was not the president but the leadership of members of Congress such as Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., John Dingell, D-Mich., Henry Reuss, D-Wis., Edward Muskie, D-Maine, and Henry Jackson, D-Wash., who led the charge.
It was a politically desirable subject at that time and politicians rushed to support groundbreaking environmental legislation. But the problems then were the low-hanging fruit we could see and smell. Even so, it took some notable ecological disasters in 1969 like the Santa Barbara Oil Spill and the Cuyahoga River chemical fire to raise much of that awareness before the Federal government assumed the primary role of protector of our natural and human resources.
Today we are facing a much greater, more elusive, complex and pervasive set of global challenges that are not easily understood or solved with technical fixes. Global warming, desertification of cropland, fresh water shortages, depletion of natural resources, ozone layer depletion, overpopulation, loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification to name just a few. A world that watches 5,000 children die every day from lack of clean drinking water and another 21,000 people who die every day of hunger or hunger-related …read more
Source:: The Denver Post