Last week, on Earth Day I happened to see a broadcast of American Experience’s “Earth Days” documentary on PBS. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Did you know that the first Earth Day was organized 42 years ago and marked the consolidation of the environmental movement as a political force?
As someone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s it struck me is what a huge impact the movement had on my personal view of the world. Its collective voice and momentum gave me the sense that we can save the natural world from human imposed ruin.
The Environmental Movement had some really big wins in those days. Banning DDT, expansion of National Parks, and the creation of the EPA to name a few. They are the reason we have Eagles today and we have relatively clean air to breath and water to drink.
In striking contrast, it dawned on me that not much has happened in the 30 years since. The tremendous policy advances have pretty much stopped. Sure we have a small number of Hybrid Cars and a few more solar panels and LED lights – but what progress has there been towards creating a truly sustainable economy? Very little. In fact, I would argue it has been a time of backslide and greenwashing.
Meanwhile, the international scientific community warns us of the effects of human induced climate change, and in response, we elect governments who ignore the science and marginalize environmental leaders.
It is now a week after Earth Day. The commercial rush is over. There are no more “green” inducements from the big brands because the commercial machine has moved on the the next big promotional opportunity… Mother’s Day.
What about Mother Earth? Is Earth Day really over?