By Sister Dolores Glick, MHSH
“Thus says God, the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it.”
On April 22, more than one billion people around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012 and help “Mobilize the Earth.” People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and its resources. And, they will demand protection for it.
A bit of history: In 1962, the publication of Rachel Carson’s bestseller, “Silent Spring,” represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement. The book raised public awareness and concern for all living organisms and the environment that supports them.
In 1970, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed an Earth Day observance after he witnessed the ravages of a 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He thought such a day might give energy to the emerging public awareness about air and water pollution and force environmental protection onto the national stage.
The first Earth Day took place on April 22 of that year; millions of Americans took to the streets, parks and other public places to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Diverse groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized that they shared common values.
That first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.
In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. It gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The challenge for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency as the devastating effects of climate change become more manifest every day. It is also a time of renewed political pressure to roll back environmental protections and regulations and cast doubts on the scientific findings that so clearly demonstrate the vulnerability of our fragile planet.
We invite you to be a part of Earth Day 2012. You’ll discover energy you didn’t know you had—energy that will empower you to join in the worldwide effort to build a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.
“We are all of us, from birth to death, guests at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath
are parts of the banquet before us…”
–What will you do to help save our earth?
–Are you inspired by nature?
As a continuation of our reflections on the environment, in next week’s blog post, Sister Dolly will share current thinking on the use of bottled water.