With Earth Day just passed, a lot of folks are debating about how far we have come and our lack of progress since the first Earth Day in 1970.
I too was curious, so I looked for our successes. Politics and greed have slowed our advancement, and faced even with the undeniable presence of Climate Change, the earth continues to be the victim of gluttony and selfishness. But, there is a lot to celebrate also, the most important being, in my opinion, is the awareness Earth Day has created.
In 1990 Earth Day went global and today about one billion people recognize April 22 as Earth Day. The Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA) was created as the result of the first Earth Day as well as the passage of environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act.
In 1972 The EPA banned the pesticide DDT, which had been implicated in the endangerment of birds such as the bald eagle. Twenty-five years later, the population of wild raptors like the eagle and ospreys have rebounded.
In 1973 The Endangered Species Act was passed. Property owners now had to consider the impact building and development had on endangered animals.
In 1974, Congress attacked water and air pollution. The Safe Drinking Water Act established national standards for acceptable levels of pollutants in drinking water. Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, Congress set the first national standards for automobile emissions. These regulations produced results that can be seen today. By 2020, overall concentrations of air pollutants were significantly lower n the United States, than they were in 1990.
In 1977, plants were added to the The Endangered Species Act, recognizing the vital role they play in our ecosystem.
In 1980, Congress created the Superfund program, the first national legislation that required industry to clean up land polluted by their activities. During the 1980s, millions of acres of wild-land were protected under the Wilderness Act.
On Earth Day 2016, 175 world leaders signed the The United Nations Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emissions. Many countries now have strict emissions standards, with the result that in most places, air quality is better today than it was 50 years ago. Environmental science and environmental law are taught in schools and universities, ideas that barely existed at the time of the first Earth Day, over 50 years ago.
While it is true that many problems remain, people everywhere are aware of the need to reduce and recycle, protect our wildlife, and prevent pollution. Concern for the environment is no longer seen as a fad but as a problem that has transcended partisan politics and national boundaries. Many politicians from both sides have come together to make real change. We have but one planet and it is up to all of us to do what we can to protect her by being aware of our habits and electing officials that share our belief in protection over profit.
I think even with our awareness things dont change much, enviromental and conservation protections change either way depending on who is in charge, things that should be protected are not etc. And yes alot of good changes have been made over the years and people try to do better. But its the never ending uphill battle thanks to greed and population and to a point ignorance. And Mother Nature is pushing back and is not happy thats for sure. Just look back to year of Covid when everything was locked down and how the Earth started to heal without all the man made interference. Not that I want to go back to lock down, but that should have been a wake up call…We just need to do better.
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I love all your facts about Earth Day and didn’t know that the EPA was formed as a result of Earth Day’s emergence. Your gallery is quite beautiful and showcases Earth’s abundance!
Thank you Terri.
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