I remember well the first Earth Day in 1970. A river in Cleveland bursting into flames when oil-soaked debris in the water ignited. The Great Lakes were in trouble due to pollution. An offshore oil rig caused millions of gallons of crude oil to spill into the Santa Barbara Channel.
I belonged to the League of Women Voters at the time. I remember going to a meeting in Yakima where the state organization was discussing how to proceed on studying this new topic, the environment. I suggested that social issues be included in the definition. My suggestion wasn’t taken nor did the environmental movement include those issues.
President Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, Pesticide Control Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, and Safe Water Drinking Act. He also approved the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In a speech in 1972, Nixon said:
"We are taking these actions not in some distant future, but now, because we know that it is now or never."
It’s so concerning that Republicans and the right wing are now against what needs to be done to step up environmental protection in light of climate change. I just couldn’t believe it when climate change deniers emerged and now when Republicans block any action on climate change just because policies are proposed by Democrats.
While government action lags and corporations often talk of climate change policies but don’t do much, we, the public, need to examine what we can do for the earth.
Here are 10 things we can to do help protect the earth:
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Cut down on what you throw away. Follow the three "R's" to conserve natural resources and landfill space.
- Volunteer. Volunteer for cleanups in your community. You can get involved in protecting your watershed, too.
- Educate. When you further your own education, you can help others understand the importance and value of our natural resources.
- Conserve water. The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that eventually end up in the ocean.
- Choose sustainable. Learn how to make smart seafood choices at www.fishwatch.gov.
- Shop wisely. Buy less plastic and bring a reusable shopping bag.
- Use long-lasting light bulbs. Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also flip the light switch off when you leave the room!
- Plant a tree. Trees provide food and oxygen. They help save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change.
- Don't send chemicals into our waterways. Choose non-toxic chemicals in the home and office.
- Bike more. Drive less.