Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day April 22, 1970

Today marks the forty-seventh anniversary of the first Earth Day events of April 22, 1970. According to the entry of that ever indispensable, yet at times not always dependable, web resource Wikipedia:

Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's natural environment. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. While this first Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day.

My father took me to the first Earth Day celebrations that were held in New York City. I was nine years old at the time. I remember 14th Street near Union Square being closed off to traffic and that there was a street fair displaying the eco-friendly technology of the time. It was the first time  ever I actually saw an electric car. To commemorate that event and in a sense to share an early childhood memory I decided to post the original broadcast of the CBS News Special Report with Walter Cronkite covering the events of the first Earth Day of April 22, 1970.

In the opening of today’s video feature you will meet biologist Dr. Barry Commoner.
Dr. Commoner was a professor at my alma mater Queens College. Dr. Commoner established the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College. One of Commoner's lasting legacies is his four laws of ecology, as written in The Closing Circle in 1971.

The four laws are:

1. Everything is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.

2. Everything Must Go Somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.

3. Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, “likely to be detrimental to that system.”

4. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms.

After seeing today’s video feature, I could not help but wonder how the concerns of that time remain the principle anxieties of today. Allow me to close with the following words of Walter Cronkite, in that sage voice of his, which still ring true today: "The hoopla of Earth Day is over. The problems remain."

Earth Day April 22, 1970 CBS News Special with Walter Cronkite (Direct Link To Entire Play List)

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