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Did Earth Day Blow It?

Posted on Apr 22, 2013

In April 2001, a typhoon churned up a dust storm in China that sent dust as far as the Great Lakes and Maryland.

With apologies to the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who is widely credited as the founder of Earth Day, I don’t really feel like celebrating.

Earth Day began as a teach-in on this day, April 22, 1970. The whole point was to educate the public on the dangers of pollution and man-made disaster, and to use the tactics of the anti-war movement to effect change.

Doubtless, Earth Day has its achievements. It is impossible to know how many environmentalists were inspired by this movement. We seem to have dealt with the ozone layer. It is illegal (for most people) to hunt whales. At the very least, school children plant trees every year.

But with climate change, we face an existential disaster about which the public is still woefully ignorant. According to a recent Gallup survey, the good news is that a slim majority of Americans are at least somewhat worried about global warming. That took only a decade of drought, wildfire and Frosty the Snowman looking more like Frosty the Puddle.

Whether you blame shortsighted politicians or corrupt corporations, it looks like the educators lost.

Clearly, there’s still a lot of work to do. This Earth Day and the day after, let’s go find one of the 46 percent who hasn’t yet witnessed the effects of climate change and show him or her a photo of ice melts, California and Texas perpetually on fire, fields in the American bread basket that have to be artificially irrigated with fracked-up water, storms that hit harder and faster than they should, temperatures that keep rising, and all the rest.

And tell those people if they don’t start lobbying their representatives in Congress and their president to do something about it, we’re all going to find ourselves on the endangered species list.

—Posted by an alarmed Peter Z. Scheer.

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