The quote above, attributed to Wendell Berry, a noted poet, novelist, and staunch environmentalist, puts a lot into perspective. When I read this quote, the granular level of life is blurred, and the view of my little world is widened so much that I can hardly see myself anymore. What I consider mine goes away, and a sort of legion can be seen. We are all sharing a space here; same air, water, ground, and resources. We share a home, and it quite literally means the world to us.
Although we all inherently know how important our planet is, we tend to take advantage of how resilient our humble home can be, and do not always treat it with the respect and caring hand it deserves. Fifty years ago, off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA., inadequate safety regulations resulted in a massive explosion that cracked the seafloor in five places and leached 3 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. This was the nations worst oil spill at the time.
We all have seen the fallout from large oil spills, sea life drenched in oil, shores covered in sticky tar, aquatic mammals washing up on the beaches, this large spill was of course no exception. What was different with this spill was the resulting push for a day bringing awareness to environmental concerns.
After witnessing the aftermath of this spill, watching birds scrubbed and people in waders walking past the shore line to assist injured animals, Gaylord Nelson, a democratic senator from Wisconsin, decided to leverage the social climate and energy of the 70’s and pair it with an environmental cause. On April 22nd, 1970, between spring break and finals, the first ever Earth Day took place and subsequently reached across the aisle. Supported by all walks of life, all demographics, democrats and republicans alike, that day lent to the creation of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
Today, Earth Day is celebrated globally by planting trees, bringing awareness to environmental concerns, and passing on all of the valuable lessons we have learned over the years. Although we still don’t always do the best job of taking care of our little home, we are getting there, and Earth Day continues to inspire us to be mindful of how we treat our one and only planet.