Nel's New Day

April 22, 2012

Join Earth Day Pledges

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:55 PM
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The Palouse

Arizona Saguaro Cactus

 

For the second year, award-winning photographer Ann Hubard has provided the blog’s images of Oregon that might not have been here in 2012 without the first Earth Day—and might disappear in the near future if people lose the battle to protect the Earth.

Multnomah Falls

Within the past year, Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan have given Wisconsin a black eye with their firsts, but the state has a history of positive actions. One of the most important is Earth Day, conceived by Sen. Gaylord Nelson after he saw the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara (CA). Outraged by the devastation, he helped pass a bill designating April 22 as a national day to celebrate the earth. An estimated one in 10 Americans—over 20 million people–took part in the first Earth Day, observed across the country 42 years ago, joining Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city dwellers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. Its success led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the 1973 passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, both under the aegis of President Richard Nixon.

Cape Kiwanda

The good news for environmentalism: Between 1970 and 2010, concentrations of six principal air pollutants declined by almost 71 percent; and in just the first 20 years of the Clean Air Act, an estimated 200,000 premature deaths and 700,000 cases of chronic bronchitis were prevented. The percentage of children with elevated blood-lead levels dropped from 88 percent in the 1970s to just 4.4 percent in the mid-90s. Similarly, lead air pollution decreased 98 percent by 2000. Prior to 1972, industrial waste and sewage had made approximately two-thirds of waterways unsafe for recreation and fishing use. Three decades later, in 2004, 53 percent of assessed river miles and 70 percent of bay and estuarine square miles were safe for recreation and fishing.

Half Dome Yosemite

The bad news for environmentalism: The United States lost more than 500,000 additional acres of such vital areas just between 1998 and 2004. In 2007, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded that “water quality improvement reached a plateau about a decade ago” and there had been a recent “upward trend for beach closings, red tides, dead zones, droughts, flooding, coral reef damage, nutrient pollution, and sewage pollution.” Given current trends, the EPA has “projected that sewage pollution will be as high in 2025 as it was in 1968, that is, before the passage of the Clean Water Act.”

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Fish consumption warning advisories increased from 899 nationwide in 1993 to 4,598 in 2010. Toxic chemicals, species loss, landfill waste, deteriorating freshwater supplies—the list seems endless. Around 154 million Americans, about half of the nation, currently live in areas that suffer from ambient ozone and/or particulate levels that are often too dangerous to breathe, resulting in 50,000 or more premature deaths per year.

Tree and Snow

The economic system is committed to growth in the use of resources (many of them non-renewable); growth in the use of low-cost labor; growth in the number of products produced; growth of shareholder profits; and, inevitably, growth in pollution and carbon emissions. Local communities feel the full effects of pollution and climate change as well as the massive social and environmental costs of corporate outsourcing of jobs.

Ramona Falls

A “new economy” movement is, however, building up momentum, in large part because the failure of national and international strategies produces more and more economic and ecological devastation. Citizens in all parts of the country have been taking the lead in constructing new economic models and institutions that not only promote democratized economic opportunity, but also, ecological sustainability, for example, in Austin (TX), Cleveland (OH), and San Francisco (CA).

Forest Park, Portland

Earth Day went global in 1990 with 200 million people in 141 countries. By 2000, 5,000 environmental groups in 184 countries organized activists, including hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on April 22 that year. Eight years of George W. Bush as president saw climate-change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, and frightened politicians reduce the impact of Earth Day by 2010, yet 225,000 people still met at the National Mall that year for a Climate Rally. Two years later, over 800 million actions have been recorded by the program “A Billion Acts of Green,” and this year’s theme, Mobilize the Earth, has moved its activism into faith, literacy, education, arts, athleticism, etc. You can join them with your pledge of action.

Mt. Hood (Oregon)

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