It’s been forty years since the first Earth Day. 40 years since I was on my knees Picking up over 1300 cigarette butts from the lawn of my high school, which has forever made me irritable about smokers using the ground as their ashtray. Hey, people, those filters don’t break down very easily.
Since then, there have been very definite successes. Consumers increasingly have sought out products or services that promise to improve the environment. Well, sometimes. The Hummer, for instance, was initially unfathomably popular, then, done in by higher gas prices, became the poster child for wretched excess.
The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970, under a Republican President, Richard Nixon, with William Ruckelshaus as its first head. In a recent wall Street Journal piece, Rucklehaus discusses what should happen next here.
(Nixon wasn’t that bad a President, except for, you know, the war and Watergate. Ruckelshaus, BTW, was fired as Deputy Attorney General a result of the Watergate “Saturday Night Massacre”; here is his recent account of that event.)
But there continues to be a debate green or growth, as though one could not have both, that \environmentalism is somehow anathema to capitalism. As a business librarian, I just don’t believe that is the case.
Much has been made of all the “green” jobs the Obama administration has promised that have not yet come to fruition. Thinking back to the Industrial Revolution, in some ways, it was more evolutionary in that the old ways didn’t disappear overnight. Patience is required.
Meanwhile, we need to respect those canaries in the coal mine, those polar bears drifting on ice floes, those penguins that have to travel 25% further for food, the potential loss of species, not from natural selection, but rather from human activity.
Yet there are people who not only think that the earth’s temperature rise is a naturally occurring phenomenon – I don’t believe that, but people are allowed to disagree – but that the earth isn’t warming at all. They take examples such as the especially snowy winter in parts of the United States as “proof”. MY proof is this chart from NASA:
No, not every year is warmer than the last. But the trend line is clear. We ignore it, literally at our peril.