Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

It's been 40 years. Man, do I feel old.

But, as pundits and other news sources have pointed out all day, we have come a long way since the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland. I vaguely remember that event.

What I remember is the push, initially by people such as Gaylord Nelson, to get us to recognize the earth as a precious resource. This, from the dBusiness News, sums up Earth Day.

In Spring 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to “force this issue onto the national agenda.” That first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA was required to set criteria for National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) 120 days after the Clean Air Act passed and 150 days after EPA opened its doors.

In the last 40 years, EPA has ammended the Clean Air Act to set, and then refined, national air quality, auto emission, and anti-pollution standards. Standards have become stricter over time, with air permit limitations reducing emission limits. Stack Testing, following the EPA Test Methods, became a reliable and often required way to demonstrate compliance.

In the last 25 years, the Emission Measurement Center (EMC) of the EPA, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS), has provided national leadership in furthering the science of characterizing and measuring air pollutant emissions. The EMC has produced nearly one hundred Test Methods for measuring air pollutants emitted from the entire spectrum of industrial processes causing air pollution. The EMC is the EPA's focal point for planning and conducting field test programs to provide quality data in support of regulatory development, producing validated emission test methods, and providing expert technical assistance for EPA, State, and local enforcement officials and industrial representatives involved in emission testing.

EPA has planned a celebration on the National Mall April 24 – 25 to commemorate this event.
It sort of struck me then and it still does now, that some of us have been recycling longer than Earth Day. It was a mind set. Victory Gardens of the Great War and of World War II never left some people's minds. I know gardening was a way of life when I was growing up. When my ex and I were able to afford a house, it had to have a plot of land for a garden. Although I don't garden as I used to, I sometimes think back to those times where harvesting fresh produce in the garden was the highlight of a day.

Recycling wasn't a word we used when I was growing up. You wore "hand-me downs". You used things until they couldn't be used again. It was just something we did.

Enter the heady days of the late 1980's. Disposable was everywhere and even those of us raised to buy cloth diapers and plastic pants because you could reuse diapers, succumbed to the allure of toss away and forget it. No more soaking in the toilet and bleach stains on pants. Diaper rash was cut down by the wicking away of moisture from baby's skin. Never you mind that these things are a layer in a landfill somewhere. If you didn't like something, out it went. If it broke, meh. Toss.

I would say it's only in the last 8-10 years that "reuseable" has become the buzz word. "Green" is not just a color, it's a way of life. We're still too much of a disposable society and we make too many things that can break within a year of their life. Why do people revere the Philco radios of yore? Not just because they were gorgeous pieces of furniture, but because they were built to last. My great grandparents had one. I'd give my eye teeth to have it now. I am not sure it would work but it was just beautiful. I remember it sitting against the west wall of the living room, next to great grandpa's enormous black wood chair.

So happy Earth Day to us. Every day should be Earth Day. Every day we should show reverence to the earth on which we live. Saint Elizabeth Seaton said it best. "Live simply so others may simply live."

As a side note: I did not take the above photo. It was taken by my brilliantly talented daughter. If you would like to see more of her nature photography, this is the link.

Beverage: English Breakfast tea



  1. Grandpa arthur and grandma rose? or maybe till and ed? what house?

  2. Arthur and Rose. I never knew Ed. It was the house that's over by Steve and Diane's. Do you remember the radio? You walked through the kitchen into the living room. The radio was to the left against the wall. Grandpa's chair was next to the radio.