Familiar with the date? It is not in fashion to celebrate Earth day anymore but the necessity to do so is rising exponentially. Five decades ago, back in 1970, when the American senator, Gaylord Nelson in the form of environmental education, founded the Earth day, he was not the only one who was worried about the future generations (which is us and more to come).
The 1960’s was a rollercoaster ride for the United States. Rachel Carson wrote the book ‘The Silent Spring’, which talked about the DDT being used in the food stalks to kill the insects and raised a concern among people. It was an exploration of causes and effects of our actions on our environment. Various pollution incidents came into light, aquatic life getting hampered by the chemicals in lakes all around the world as the factories were pumping pollutants in the water bodies.
In the '60s, when people cared about pollution, it was a very local phenomenon. It was 'clean the street,' or 'we have air pollution in this city’. But nobody was thinking, as Carl Sagan beautifully said, "air does not carry a passport." Air molecules can go wherever they want, that's true with water molecules as well, they contaminate the water table, goes into the oceans and travels the world. We are not isolated and that concept was not widely embraced in then or at any time before that all over the world. So, if thinking about the solution was only local then we were missing out on a much larger foundation. Meanwhile, the U.S was preoccupied with many other internal issues. The hot and cold war with Vietnam and the Soviet Union, the civil rights movement. Perhaps the 60’s was pretty turbulent decade for them.
This next thing changed everything. December 1968, the Apollo 8 mission, first human spaceflight to reach another astronomical object. It was the first time anyone ever left Earth for a destination, which was the Moon. A picture of Earth was taken, rising above the Lunar landscape. This was Earth from space as only the universe could reveal it to us (surprisingly not a flat disk lol). People before this incident, knew how Earth looked like because they had seen its representations in the Geography books, as color coded countries, boundaries, smooth terrain, no clouds. And now came this image, a blue ball with ocean, land and clouds, floating alone in the darkness and silence of space, with no incoming from the outside to save us from our own selves.
We went there to discover the Moon but we actually discovered Earth for the first time. This was the cause for many steps taken in the future. The Environmental Protection Agency was signed into law. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was founded. In 1971, ‘Doctors without Borders’ was founded. In 1973, DDT and Leaded gas was banned in the US. And of course, the first Earth day in 1970.
All of that was a big change in the US because they conducted the space program. It was the whole mankind which just experienced an upgrade of the Earth in their heads of how they imagined it. It was the home that nature gave us, which had no boundaries and no color coded nations. We had divided ourselves on our own, and the thought that diferent countries have different issues, shattered when we saw ourselves how nature made us. The mindset had changed, sense of oneness arose. Earth is one ecosystem and we are all participants in it. We have to do something globally, not just individually to protect it and to ensure our own survival living in the ecosystem.
Just start on your own first. Close the tap you see running even if its just two drops every minute, use the waste water from the water purifier for cleaning and washing. Walk or use a bicycle instead of driving to the store near your house, carry your own bag there, stop using plastic. Turn off the unnecessary lights and fans that you leave as it is, buy second hand books if you can. Plant small trees in your balcony, take care of them. When you think you are motivated enough, motivate others, your family members, people with whom you spend most of your time with. Spread awareness in kids whom you visit once in a while. Government has a responsibility but if we take it in our own hands, we can do much better than what we are doing right now. Green is the new sexy!
Happy Earth day!