Last April we remembered the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Fifty years ago, as a result of unregulated industries, the nation was experiencing choking smog, toxic dumps, and contaminated rivers.
Earth Day began a discussion on how our lifestyles were damaging the environment and birthed a movement to put health and safety of citizens over corporate profits.
The bipartisan support for Earth Day led to over 20 million people coming out to call for “A future worth living.” Soon after, the Nixon administration established the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air Act.
Congress later passed the Clean Water Act and many more laws that have protected millions from disease and death and have protected hundreds of species from extinction.
Now, 50 years later, we are facing an even greater environmental crisis: A lack of leadership in the face of a warming climate caused by burning fossil fuels.
More than any other time in history our actions will determine not only the environmental health for our country and the planet but the future health of our children, grandchildren and future generations.
We see the results of the climate crises at home and across the globe. Fires are spreading faster and further amid drought as we saw in Australia and have just seen here on the West Coast.
In November 2019, 11,000 scientists from 153 countries signed a letter to humanity stating: “We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency...To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live.” They recommended taking urgent steps to leave fossil fuels in the ground and to halt forest destruction. But these actions take leadership. Leadership we currently don’t have.
As we experience the reality of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration is busy dismantling the very programs implemented as a result of the first Earth Day in 1970: The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, establishment of OSHA for workplace safety and many others.
In April, the EPA weakened regulations on mercury pollution from oil and coal-fired power plants. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause brain damage and hearing and vision problems in babies among other health effects.
As Americans try to remain healthy, our very government is daily making decisions to put corporate profits over people’s health and the health of the planet.
This administration is not only unprepared to deal with the inevitable disasters brought on by climate change, it is actively contributing to the crisis.
Thankfully, there is hope but we must act quickly and decisively. We need leadership for collective action. We need to elect officials who are effective leaders, who actually care for the health of people and the health of our earth, our common home. We have to put people over the profits of corporations.
We must completely transition to renewable energy by 2050. A plan such as proposed by the Green New Deal would increase jobs in a carbon-free economy. Among many outcomes it would involve upgrading our crumbling roads and railways. It would enhance our transportation system with electric vehicle charging stations and prioritize job transition for fossil fuel workers. It would be a start toward addressing the climate crisis and help to revitalize the economy.
We were not able to gather in the streets to mark Earth Day 2020 on April 22. But we can make a difference this Nov. 3. Make Election Day Earth Day. Honor our earth by voting for candidates who believe in science and act for the common good of our society. Vote for candidates who care about the health of the planet, the health of our children and the health of future generations. Vote for the Earth.
As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King prophetically spoke 52 years ago at Riverside Church: “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.
In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Wenatchee Interfaith Climate Group: Susan Evans, Bill Layman, Sue Kane, Margaret Neighbors, Dean and Sara O’Daffer, Irene Morrow, Jeanne Poirier, Merry Roy, Joseph Roy, Paul Armenter, Patricia St. August, Kurt Erlanson, Shayne Magdoff
The Wenatchee Interfaith Climate Group’s vision is that people in the greater Wenatchee Valley will unite in the care of the earth, our common home. Its mission is to provide a moral, spiritual, emotional home for climate activism in the greater Wenatchee Valley. The group meets online through Zoom at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Contact: email@example.com