Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

April 22, 2013

A day to save the planet

-- — From space, Earth looks like a big, blue marble, rich in blues and greens, wrapped in swirls of atmospheric white.

From our vantage point, the Earth still has majestic beauty, but it is often marred by smoke in the skies, or ruined waterways, or trash stuck to the side of the streets. From ground level, it sometimes seems we humans have treated the earth not so much as a garden but as a dump.

Today, April 22, is Earth Day.

Earth Day is designed as a reminder to keep our eye on the ideal of the big, blue marble. A reminder that Earth is neither a garden nor a dump. It is our home. It is our life-support system.

Earth Day began April 22, 1970, as a time for all people to celebrate the planet Earth and renew our dedication to making the world safer, healthier and cleaner for ourselves and all of the generations to come.

Then-Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day marking an early starting point for the modern environmental movement. Twenty million Americans participated that first year. They protested oil spills, pesticides, wilderness depletion, factory pollution, etc.

“The objective was to organize a national demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda,” Nelson later said of the first Earth Day. “It was a gamble, but it worked.”

The first Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

There are those who will claim these acts have hindered human ambition and endeavor rather than help the planet. But these acts may well save the life-support system for our children and their children and all of our descendants to come.

We should do all that we can to be good stewards of our planet. Long journeys are comprised of small steps, one after another. Enough small steps, by each one of us, may well save the Earth.

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