EHS Management

E-pinion: Should We Continue to Celebrate Earth Day?

Some of us remember what it was like before the first Earth Day, and all of us have been exposed to the lore. For example:

  • Visible smog enveloping our major cities.
  • Native-American chieftains crying in canoes afloat burning rivers.
  • Brown sludge and odor emanating from industrial complexes—some residents of communities with such facilities referring to it as the “smell of money.”

Changed the Nation?

Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, wanted us to think that Earth Day changed the nation. In a reflection on the 10th anniversary of Earth Day, Sen. Nelson said:

“Earth Day 1970 made it clear that we could summon the public support, the energy, and commitment to save our environment. And while the struggle is far from over, we have made substantial progress. In the ten years since 1970 much of the basic legislation needed to protect the environment has been enacted into law: the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Water Pollution and Control Act Amendments, the Resource Recovery Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. And, the most important piece of environmental legislation in our history, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA came about in response to the same public pressure which later produced Earth Day.”

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Appeal to Youth?

The Earth Day Network (EDN), a collaboration of organizations worldwide meant to mobilize the environmental movement, claims that Earth Day is the largest civic observance in the world. The organization is promoting Earth Day 2015 as “possibly the most exciting year in environmental history.” In a clear appeal to youth, the logo for Earth Day 2015 says, “It’s Our Turn to Lead.”

Pros and Cons

We googled Earth Day pros and cons. Aside from references to what must have been a hilarious Jimmy Fallon piece on the Tonight Show, the links on the first page all lead to opinion pieces advocating for more than one day to celebrate the Earth.

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We’d like to hear from you

So, here are a few questions for those of us in industry:

  • Are the environmental regulations you are subject to the result of Earth Day?
  • What effect has Earth Day had on your facility operations?
  • Do we still need, or did we ever need, Earth Day?
  • Should we continue to celebrate Earth Day or enough already?


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