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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

It Isn't Easy Going Green


By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy flickr
While everyone is still focused on the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, this week I thought I’d change the channel to something that could do the entire planet some good.  That’s because while the headlines have been screaming Coronavirus for the past month, many people missed the 50th anniversary of Earth Day that occurred on April 22.  Started in 1970, Earth Day was used as a rallying cry for people from around the world to stem the degradation of the fragile planet upon which we all live.  In a strange way, the COVID-19 crisis has done its part to assist Earth Day 2020 by forcing the eight billion people who populate Planet Earth to drive less, which has noticeably improved the air quality globally.  Below are five milestones that Earth Day has achieved as well as a few ways in which we can all reduce our carbon footprint so our grandchildren will be able to enjoy the one 100th anniversary of this perennial environmental movement.

Why is Earth Day Important?

Like it or not, Planet Earth is an island in space.  That means it has limited resources with which to feed, clothe and house an ever-expanding population.  Back in the late 1960’s many of the two billion people who already populated the planet realized we were on a perilous course of environmental degradation that would ultimately transform our world into a wasteland if nothing was done to stop it.  In 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to demand that new laws be created to address the effects of wanton environmental destruction that had been taking its toll for the past century and a half.  Then as now, there came a realization that if mankind kept going as it had been since the start of the Industrial Revolution, there soon wouldn’t be a place on Earth worth inhabiting.

Image courtesy flickr
1.      While the term “Climate Change” is still seen as taboo in some political circles, what most people fail to realize is that it was due to two politicians that Earth Day was born.  In 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson was spurred to take action after he witnessed the ravages caused by a massive oil spill that had taken place in Santa Barbara.  He persuaded Congressman Pete McCloskey to co-chair an initiative designed to organize college teach-ins on April 22.  Senator Nelson then went one step further by recruiting environmental activist Denis Hayes to help get the word out across the nation.  Hayes reached out to 85 other activists to help build a groundswell of support for a national environmental movement.  Not only did this help promote the effort, but it also resulted in renaming the project Earth Day which immediately drew national media attention.   

2.      Individual environmental movements that had been rallying against oil spills, industrial pollution, toxic waste dumps, herbicides, pesticides, and the extinction of wildlife came together on the first Earth Day. The kickoff in 1970 achieved an almost unheard of political alignment that gathered support from politicians, city dwellers, farmers, and business leaders alike. It inevitably led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of several landmark environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act,  the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.


3.      While the initial Earth Day was something of a homegrown American effort, within 20-years it went global when a group of environmental leaders once more tasked Denis Hayes to help mobilize 200 million people in more than 140 countries.  Not only did Earth Day 1990 give a boost to global environmental awareness, it also ushered in worldwide recycling efforts.  Ten years after that, Hayes once more spearheaded the campaign to help raise awareness about global warming as well as making a case for clean energy. 

Image courtesy flickr
4.      While the effort of those who founded Earth Day was to shake up the political power structure that had previously let industrial giants do as they pleased, by 2010 the movement faced stiff opposition by well-financed environmental naysayers who began to campaign publicly to undermine the protections that had been previously secured. 

5.      Today, the fight to save the planet continues.  But it needs your help.  If you truly wish for your children and grandchildren to live in a world that isn’t plagued by famine, flood and toxic waste, there are several things you can do:

a.       Car Wars – One of the first things you can do to reduce pollution is to drive less and buy more fuel-efficient cars.  Not only will this help save the environment, but it will also save you money on fuel, maintenance and insurance.
b.      Talk to your political representatives to get them to push for sustainable alternative energy initiatives.  Living in the Sunshine State, I’m appalled at how little solar energy is being promoted, adopted and used here.  If California, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire can offer rebates to residents who install solar panels on their homes, why can’t Florida?
c.       Vacation or Stay-cation? – Another huge source of air pollution is air travel.  The next time you consider going on vacation, do the planet some good by opting for destinations that are closer to home. 
d.      Home improvements that save energy are not only a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, but your utility bills at the same time.  Even little things like buying energy star appliances and weatherproofing your windows and doors can make a huge difference in how much energy your family consumes.

When you consider we only have one Earth upon which to live, it’s a shame that everyone doesn’t clamor to make sure that in another fifty years the place we call home will still be livable.  Even politicians and business tycoons should realize that they have to live here too.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/


1 comment:

  1. Going green starts with just one step at a time. It can be as simple and using the recycle bends the city handed out to residents for the cities recycle program. It's easy once you get use to doing it.

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