Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day. Two questions: Why does it matter? And, are you going to do anything to honor it?
The story of Earth Day
Inspired by environmental disasters, particularly the Santa Barbara oil spill and the Cuyahoga River fires in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) got support in Congress to establish the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, to promote environmental responsibility.
About that first Earth Day, Sen. Nelson wrote in the EPA Journal, “On that day Americans made it clear that they were deeply concerned over the deterioration of our environment and the mindless dissipation [squandering] of our resources.”
Earth Day was the push Congress needed to continue passing major environmental laws, like the National Environmental Education Act , the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Unfortunately, over the last 40 years, many of these laws have been gutted by Republicans’ homage to greedy, polluting corporations like Koch Industries, Monsanto, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Peabody Industries.
Nonetheless, beginning in 1990, Earth Day went global and more than 200 million people in 141 countries demonstrated for the restoration of the environment, and in 1992 the United Nations hosted an Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
Earth Day continued to grow. In 2010, more than one billion people acted for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and launched “A Billion Acts of Green” across the globe.
Last year, Earth Day marked 50 years of environmental activism. Despite the worldwide pandemic, more than 100 million people across 192 countries participated in one of the “largest online mass mobilizations in history.”
“Restore Our Earth”
This year’s Earth Day 2021 is appropriately themed “Restore Our Earth”.
Knowing that every system on Earth is connected, and actions taken in one system impact the others, decisions made about economics and politics have rippling impacts on society, communities, and our natural environments.
Climate change shows us how human behavior can have serious consequences to our social, physical, and economic health. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on conditions that disproportionately threaten the most vulnerable communities — who are already bearing the brunt of societal and environmental disasters. (Examples: this year’s Texas ice storm, and the sea rise in Miami.)
Schools will be called upon to provide “restorative” environmental education and strong civic engagement to provide skills for students to join a growing green workforce, and the know-how to advocate for healthy, safe, and prosperous communities.
New thinking – a renewable resource
Thankfully, new thinking, like leadership, is a renewable resource, and the new Biden administration can provide both. It held a global Earth Day Climate Summit yesterday, the fifth anniversary of the U.S. signing the Paris climate accords.
New technologies in wind power, solar power, and battery technology will begin to transition us into a cleaner, more efficient, and cheaper “energy moving” system instead of a dirty, expensive “energy producing” system of environment-destroying oil, gas, coal, and costly nuclear sources.
According to Technology Times, batteries will power this new thinking, and they won’t all be lithium-ion batteries. The new “flow battery” is staking a claim in the clean renewable energy world of the future.
The “flow battery” technology is an array of tanks of chemical solutions storing energy generated by solar and wind farms which can power whole cities.
In Green Tech Media, March 2021, “The lush island nation of Samoa and a densely packed neighborhood in Brooklyn, NYC may seem to have little in common … but they are in the forefront of the most cutting-edge clean energy projects. In Brooklyn, Marcus Garvey Village is powered by a microgrid featuring solar, a fuel cell, and the first lithium-ion battery system installed under current regulatory requirements. Across the world, Samoa is going 100% clean renewable energy in just a few years.”
This “new thinking” will require us to reimagine our power grid infrastructure. The smart thing would be to invest in a “superhighway” grid of new technology and energy systems. This would not be cheap. Think 1950s and our Eisenhower interstate superhighways and the 1960s and putting a man on the moon “by the end of the decade.”
Join the World climate leaders, grassroots activists, nonprofit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, artists, musicians, influencers, and the leaders of tomorrow to push us all toward a better world.
The time is now to “Restore Our Earth.”