Message from "Earthdays Daughter" – a long way to go…

Posted on April 22, 2008. Filed under: -- |

38 years later, we have a long way to go before our air is healthy, our water is clean, our communities are sustainable…

We are at a pivotal moment. Unless we act quickly and dramatically to alter our current energy path, climate change will trump all other efforts to protect and preserve our water, air, land and wildlife. Our challenge is to rapidly develop and deploy technologies that put us on a sustainable energy path before irreversible climate change overwhelms us. It turns out this challenge also is an opportunity to transform our economy and assert our energy independence and, in doing so, improve our security as a nation. Tia Nelson, daughter of Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson.

Our challenge is to transform understanding into action, and there is no question that climate change must be at the top of our action list.

We know how to do it, and it’s effective – Reflecting on the many environmental challenges we face, we should recognize the tremendous progress made since 1970. Our air and water are much cleaner because of the movement spearheaded by Gaylord Nelson. Some argued that regulation would damage our economy. Instead, we adapted. New technologies were developed, and a strong environmental ethic was created. We are much better off because of the changes driven by Earth Day. Roy Thilly is president and chief executive of Wisconsin Public Power Inc.

We’re still off track – Much has happened since the first Earth Day. Besides being more tuned in to our relationship with our surroundings and our role in protecting air, water and natural resources for the future, we’re witnessing economic development in countries with soaring populations, increasing demand for energy and raw materials.

As such, we can no longer continue along as we did when we celebrated the first Earth Day with Gaylord Nelson in 1970. With American ingenuity and the help of like-minded people in the faith, union and business worlds – and with the assistance of our friends and neighbors – we can increase the use of affordable, renewable energy; we can make our homes, cars and buildings more energy efficient; we can save money, boost the economy and create jobs; – all while leaving a planet that’s safe and clean for our children. Eric Uram is conservation chair of the Sierra Club.

Still a long way to go- Much has been accomplished since the first Earth Day, but more needs to be done.

The Clean Air Act amendments passed in 1970 aimed to make our air healthy and to keep it that way. But we still have unhealthy levels of smog and soot in much of Wisconsin, especially in the summer. The Clean Water Act passed in 1972 had a goal of making our lakes and rivers “fishable and swimmable” by 1983, but years later we have beach closings due to excessive pollution and health advisories warning us not to eat too many fish due to mercury contamination.

Certainly, these landmark laws and others have resulted in environmental improvements. Additionally, sewage treatment plants drastically improved some waters such as the Wisconsin and Fox rivers that were largely devoid of aquatic life in 1970 due to the dumping of raw sewage. Yet we still have sewage overflows and excessive nutrient and chemical loading into our waters from polluted runoff.

And some things never seem to change: In the 1970s and today, coal-burning power plants remain our largest sources of air pollution. Several large coal plants were built 30 years ago; today, we have three more under construction. As Wisconsin begins to seriously address global warming pollution, these new coal plants, and 14 older dirty ones in our state, will make significant reductions of greenhouse gases a major challenge. Keith Reopelle is program director for Clean Wisconsin.

Gaylord Nelson – “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

Read full from JSonline

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