At a time where Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon sat together in the Oval Office, US Senator Gaylord Nelson inspired the world. Engaging the public, Nelson would truly begin what would be one of the polarizing conversations of today: the environment.
In 1970, US Senator Gaylord Nelson implemented a national day of environmental education and activism. Forty-nine years later, Earth Day continues to be celebrated across the United States in its own modern take.
Climate Discussion Gets Heated
Nelson realized that change was necessary. For years, he fought for a platform to address the deterioration of our environment. In his own words, “the most important environmental issue is one that is rarely mentioned, and that is the lack of a conservation ethic in our culture”. Leading a mission to combat this very issue, Nelson’s work was dedicated to progressing society out of environmental apathy. Despite his successes, today’s society is struggling to uphold Nelson’s hopes.
In an interview with his daughter, Tia Nelson, she exposes the sad reality of the country’s current status. “He certainly would be deeply distressed by the further erosion of bipartisan support for environmental protections… he would be sad and concerned about how partisan the issue has become”, she states.
Thoughts From Activist Tia Nelson
Furthering the discussion, she says “he saw the right to drink clean water and breathe clean air as fundamental inalienable rights of every American, and rights that the government is obligated to protect in the same way that we expect the government to provide for our public safety and national security”.
The truth Tia Nelson brings to the light is nothing but eye-opening to the lifestyle of the world. Although US Senator Gaylord Nelson wished for a green and healthy lifestyle for every American, current trends illustrate heart-breaking realities.
The climate discussion has since turned into a climate debate, and additionally, a deeply partisan one too.
Whether through water pollution, soil erosion, or air pollution, it is evident there is a lot of room for improvement.
What Can You Do To Help?
Since the first Earth Day, the environment is deteriorating at a rapid rate. Unsurprisingly, the world still combating the same problems as half a century ago. However, each individual has the ability and responsibility to care for the environment. Here are some easy suggestions to go green:
- Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- The average vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. While gas emissions contribute to the greenhouse effect, driving is causing the Earth’s temperature to rise. When possible, ditch the car and take a nice walk to your next destination.
- Reuse and Recycle
- Conserve Your Water Usage
- With the current consumption rate, the world will be facing mass water shortages by 2025. To prevent stressing water systems or using excess energy, be conscious of your daily water usage. Time your showers, turn off your tap when not in use, and fix household leaks. Any form of conservation helps.
The decline of our environment has been a topic of conversation for far too long. For generations, man continues to destroy ecosystem after ecosystem. We all walk on the same soil and breathe the same air; We share the world we live in. For the sake of the future generations, it is up to each and every one of us to initiate change.
Together, let’s make each future Earth Day is greener than the last.
From everyone at The Rising, Happy Earth Day!
Avery is a writer for the Energy section and a Material Science and Engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.