Earth Day began on April 22, 1970. It was a grassroots, minimally financed long- term effort, led by former Senator Gaylord Nelson, who first discussed the concept with President John Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, in 1962.
Both very much liked the concept, and President Kennedy discussed the need for conservation and regard for environmental concerns during a less-than-successful conservation tour in September 1963. This was for a variety of reasons, including the 1962 Bay of Pigs fiasco, the focus on foreign concerns, and, of course, the assassination of President Kennedy that November. Senator Nelson persevered and in 1969 decided to proceed with the concept of Earth Day, to be held in the Spring of 1970. No one could have possibly foreseen that this would become an annual event, more than forty years later.
Along the way, however, we have seen far more attention to the environment, and here in Port Washington, there has been a significant effort by a few local groups, Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, Grassroots Environmental Education, and Port Green, to bring attention to, and advance environmental improvements.
Yet on a national level, our environmental concerns have sometimes been inconsistent. For example, in the late 1970s, then President Carter introduced auto mileage standards, discussed alternative energy sources and usage, and the need for more energy efficiency (via tax credits for better windows, insulation, etc.), as well as some other issues. While some of these concepts were continued, we have still not even come up to the auto mileage standards suggested then. For example, my 1982 VW Jetta Diesel consistently got well over 50 mpg then, a standard that few autos to this day achieve.
We continuously see political disagreements over whether or not there may be such a thing as Global Warming. Firstly, I have always felt that the condition should be known as Global Climate Change (instead of warming), and that there are many health-related impacts from environmental issues. We all have witnessed some of the deadliest tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis in history, and many believe there is at least some environmental causation for these. I highly recommend that interested individuals review many informative websites such as that of the Deidre Imus Environmental Health Center (at Hackensack University Medical Center). That website is: http://www.dienviro.org, as well the website for Grassroots Environmental education ( www.grassrootsinfo.org ).
However, I believe the real issue we must all consider is that each and every one of us is, and must therefore act as, the Earth's caretakers, protecting it as best we can for future generations. Celebrations such as the , are fabulous activities that demonstrate commitment and bring attention to the environment on a local level. However, we must all respect the Earth each and every day, and not just once each year.