The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. I was in 8th grade and knew nothing about it. By the next spring, I had started high school, met your Grandpa Nelson, and gotten a new bunch of friends. We all celebrated Earth Day that year by planting African violets around what was then called The New Building at Mira Costa High School, in Manhattan Beach, California.
It felt good, being out there in the sun with other idealists, feeling we were making a difference, making the world better and more beautiful.
In the fifty years since, we have seen a lot of movement toward this ideal. Solar power, wind power, more awareness of one’s “carbon footprint”, and the idea that living closer to nature is better. Counteracting those advances are the powerful forces of corporate greed, and a current President who believes whatever his corporate buddies pay him to believe. This tug of war has been going on since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but every year it feels more desperate.
And now, with the country mostly locked down and staying inside, what have we learned? For one thing, that many of the jobs that people have been commuting to, burning gallons of gas and creating tons of greenhouse gases, can really be done from home. We don’t have to trash the world to make a living.
I hope people take this time to re-think their habits, and see that home is good, peace is good, and that madly dashing from one place to another doesn’t make their lives better.
And that’s my soapbox speech for Earth Day, 2020.