Up with Earth Year!
Michael H. Glantz
For the past 50 years people have celebrated an Earth Day. Its beginning years were extremely valuable and eventful. Before the first official Earth Day in 1969, we were slowly emerging out of what might be called the dark ages of environmentalism. The decades preceding 1970 witnessed little concerted interest at the global level or nationally in saving Planet Earth from the destructive ways of its human inhabitants.
In the old days habitats were destroyed in the name of survival or out of a desire to create something that was viewed as a corporate societal necessity or out of greed to convert a landscape or a water resource into something that would generate a profit. Today, there are super-funders (in theory) to clean up such polluted areas.
Decades later after the first Earth Day, we can say with confidence that we (civil societies worldwide) have come to look at Planet Earth in a new way. Perhaps it was prompted at first by the satellite photo of our Planet Earth floating in space against a darkened universe — an inhabited “Blue Marble:” quite isolated, quite alone. That image from the late 1960s gave us the feeling that we had better not “foul our nest” or, to use another analogy, we had better work together to keep the Earth-as-a-lifeboat from sinking.
So, now we look forward to yet another Earth Day, which comes around but once a year (like Christmas or Independence Day). It is on our minds (and in the media) for a few weeks before and after. But, for the rest of the year, most people go back to thinking about other things and only occasionally think about the fate of the planet.
Much has happened since the first Earth Day. The level of consciousness of the people, of government leaders, and of many industries has risen to the point where the environment enters into our everyday decision-making.
Thus, my modest proposal: “A plot to save the planet”
We are in the first decades of the rest of the 21st century. What we decide today about whether or how to save the planet from wanton destruction will affect people born throughout the rest of this century. It is kind of awesome when you stop to think that many of the chemicals we put into the air and the water will accumulate there for decades if not centuries.
Most people and governments are celebrating Earth Day once again in the year 2019. Parties, extravaganzas, gala events, teach-ins and countdowns are taking place around the globe. That’s nice BUT I suggest that we forget about just celebrating Earth Day in 2019. Yes, forget it. Instead, let’s make the rest of the year of 2019 EARTH YEAR.
Let’s use all of 2019 to focus on cleaning up the water, the land, the oceans and the atmosphere for the benefit of future as well as present generations. Let’s give ourselves and our descendants the best and cleanest planet possible. We can start now, just as if we were getting ready for Earth Day, but instead we would be preparing for a much larger endeavor, an Earth YEAR. Just maybe it will catch on and each year will become an Earth Year.
Earth Day, to many, serves as a feel-good day. But we can do a lot better. Earth Year is a challenging goal especially for those born after, say 1985, who are part of the eco-generation: they have been immersed in hearing about human abuses of the environment. They are the decision makers of tomorrow.