In the emerging light on the pollution we were spraying into the air, Earth Day 1970 took a share of the spotlight.
That first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, came in part as a public response to the gargantuan oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969. Ironically on the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, news of another oil spill began trickling into the media. But little attention was paid to an oil rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico because we were all patting ourselves on our eco-friendly backpacks for the strides made in past forty years.
When the green bio-degradable balloons burst several days later, our spirits fell as flat as those deflated balloons to learn of the massive amounts of oil spewing forth from the depths of the sea and with no possible solutions in sight to stem the flow after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded.
Ms. Carson’s book from fifty years ago brought change – that can’t be disputed. The Environmental Protection Agency and passage of legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act stand as testament to the revolution she brought to bear on industry in the United States. But it didn’t protect us completely from big corporations’ quest for profit over safety.
Her words still are relevant and pertinent today, and we must not forget them. We’ve come so far since she made the connections between what we do to the environment and the toll we pay for its destruction. We can’t let her down now as we prepare to celebrate another Earth Day.
The PBS documentary A Sense of Wonder uses Ms. Carson’s words in her final year to sum up her legacy.
“Mankind has gone very far into an artificial world of his own creation. He has sought to insulate himself in his cities of steel and concrete, away from the realities of earth, water, the growing seed. And intoxicated with a sense of his own power, he seems to be going farther and farther into experiments toward the destruction of himself and his world. . .I do believe, that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and the realities of this universe about us, the less taste we shall have for its destruction.”
She also states, “There is no single remedy for this condition.” But as Earth Day 2012 is upon us, I wonder what we can do as individuals to keep her vision alive 50 years after the publication of Silent Spring.
I’d love to hear from you. What do you do or what do you believe we all should do to prevent mankind from destroying himself? Or do you believe we are headed on the right course already?
I can’t wait to hear what you think.