The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day
What has been accomplished?
Quite a bit actually...
This April 22nd will be the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Better World Club was scheduled to be at EarthX, where BWC President Mitch Rofsky was asked to speak, as he attended the first “Earth Week” in Philadelphia in 1970.
Mitch would have acknowledged that Baby Boomers often get quite a bit of criticism for its failure to cure climate change. Some of that criticism is deserved.
But it shouldn’t obscure the fact that quite a bit has been accomplished environmentally over the past 50 years (just ask anyone breathed the air in Los Angeles in the 1950s). It is critical that we recognize—and build upon—the progress of the past. When we don’t recognize progress, we might give up the strategies/tactics that have been successful. And who knows how many would become too cynical to participate in the political process meaningfully.
So, here’s a list of some of the environmental achievements that first –and following--Earth Days helped spur:
1970: The Environmental Protection Agency is Established
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) got its start on December 2nd, 1970. Just before it was established, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio became so polluted that it caught fire – calling attention to the many environmental problems throughout America that needed to be addressed.
1971: Lead-Based Paint Restrictions
To protect children from developmental challenges, Congress restricts use of lead-based paint in homes and on cribs and toys in the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act.
1971: Amtrak Starts Rolling
Between 1920 and 1970, use of passenger rail dropped dramatically in favor of personal vehicles. Just when it seemed that the end of passenger rail in the United States was near, the government passed the Rail Passenger Service Act to ensure that railroads would continue to receive funds. Amtrak revived train travel, which is a low-impact form of transportation, though it was never able to regain its 19th century popularity.