22 April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. To see the black and white pictures of the people flooding the Fifth avenue in New York City in 1970 stimulates opposite reactions. The positive realization that environmental consciousness was already there, and it reached the rest of the world. But it takes a few seconds to realize that people request of environment protection was left mainly unanswered. Half a century later there is still a long way to go, as Fridays for future movement reminds us.
None can describe better the impact of that first Earth day in 1970 than Senator Gaylord Nelson himself. The then 53-year US Senator created Earth Day to force the environmental issue onto the national agenda. The amazing response of over twenty million Americans marching in different cities proved he was right and not alone.
The article Senator Nelson penned to celebrate the 10th anniversary in 1980, still available in the US Environmental Protection Agency archive, explains the importance of the day but also provides a vision still entirely meaningful today. “Ten years later, it has become popular in some circles to write the obituary of the environmental movement, to refer to the passing of the “golden era” for environmentalism. It is asserted that public interest has waned, that new worries have captured attention, that inflation, the energy crisis, and international conflict have superseded if not wiped out public concern over environmentalism. Those who write that view are uninformed and far removed from the environmental scene or the politics surrounding it.”
Words of a man ahead of his time. Today we celebrate the Earth and his vision too. ONE