In the late 1960’s, the environment was in dire straits after decades of abuse and assault. Our waterways were so polluted that the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire as a matter of routine. Leaded gasoline was the primary fuel used in automobiles, contaminating our atmosphere with lead tainted exhaust. Lack of regulation and enforcement on solid waste led to the creation of super toxic landfills that leached poisons into ground water and aquifers.
The ‘60s had been a decade of activism. Citizens marched in protest of the Vietnam War, in support of women’s equality, and to demand civil rights for all. This engagement lent its enthusiasm to a budding environmental awareness. People were waking up to the degradation of clean air and clean water in the name of economic growth. The spoiling of nature’s beauty seemed too high a price to pay for progress.
Awareness and concern coalesced into the environmental movement and on April 22, 1970 Earth Day was born. The idea of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day was created to highlight lack of governmental responses to a massive oil spill and subsequent environmental plunder of sensitive coastal areas of California. The support of Earth Day 1.0 was nation-wide with more than 20 million people participating in marches, rallies, and protests. Elected officials took note of the growing concern for the environment and worked to pass major legislation including the Clean Air Act (1970), Clean Water Act (1972), and creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (1970.)
As Earth Day 2017 approaches, the protections that the first Earth Day help bring about are in serious danger of being defunded, significantly weakened, and completely dismantled. The budget for the EPA has been drastically cut by the current administration. Coal companies are now allowed to dump over fill in streams, contaminating peoples’ drinking water with arsenic and other toxins.
You can show your support for our Mother Earth and Earth Day by participating in the 2018 Louisville Earth Walk on April 21, 2018 at the Iroquois Amphitheater. While there, learn about the steps you can take to connect your concern and action with local advocacy groups. Join with other pro-environmental citizens to send a clear signal to our elected officials of our continued desire to protect our planet. Let your action be known and register here. Or get even more attention by forming an Earth Walk team with people from work or school, church, or your neighborhood. Earth Day is every day, but especially on April 21st.
“Stepping Up for the Planet” is the theme for the inaugural Louisville Earth Walk coming to Iroquois Park on Saturday April 22nd and the timing couldn’t be better.
The Louisville Earth Walk is the opportunity our community needs – one where all of us can come together to show our mutual concern and care for planet Earth. It is the opportunity we need to demonstrate our mutual concerns around protecting our water, our air and our soil today and for future generations.
History shows that protests and boycotts can be powerful ways to support our environment. At the same time many are identifying a need to come together around what we are “for,” in contrast to what we are “against.” This was key to the success of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s “I Love Mountains Day.” While hundreds gathered with the goal of stopping the destructive process that is mountain top mining – their clear focus was always on protecting Kentucky’s beautiful mountains. The Louisville Earth Walk provides this same kind of opportunity.
It also provides support for protecting our natural resources by both raising awareness around environmental issues and suggesting things we can do to live out that awareness. At the same time it will help connect the community to many of the non-profits that work year round for environmental justice and a healthy planet.
These times call for mutuality, for solidarity, visibility and action. They call for everyone’s engagement. These times call for ”Stepping Up for the Planet.” I hope you will put on your walking shoes and join us on April 22nd, Earth Day 2017. Details and registration are available at LouisvilleEarthWalk.org.
Caring for our planet and advocating for clean air and clean water is becoming more important as populations grow and environmental regulations come under attack. The Louisville Earth Walk offers an easy and fun way to help many of the local groups that are working hard to improve the air and water quality in Louisville. While cars and power plants are getting cleaner, people are consuming at greater rates than in the past. The Earth Walk agencies promote a more sustainable life style through education and advocacy. As federal and state governments are moving to eliminate environmental protections, these groups are stepping up their efforts to protect the earth. At the Earth Walk you will learn ways that you can reduce your impact and live more sustainably as well as advocate for better laws at the local, state and federal levels. Assemble at team from your congregation, work place, or friends and family to get bragging rights for the top teams. You can also walk as an individual and earn incentives (details TBA) for the pledges you get from family and friends. Register today and start on your way to help make Louisville a healthier more sustainable place to live.