At the national level, the constant erosion of environmental gains as a consequence of overwhelming political power wielded by some corporations and the backlash they have created to protect their economic interests is the biggest setback, he says. Environmentalists have been marginalized and even vilified as tree-huggers and Birkenstocks (and let's not forget the nickname "Ozone Man"). Our government has wasted precious time creating doubt and denial regarding global warming, which has been recognized and understood by scientists since the 1980s.
Some of the dire predictions of that earlier time have not come to pass or at least have been forestalled, while at the same time, new and more urgent problems have arisen that were unknown then and that we could not foresee, he continues. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [which formed in December 1970], the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act all came from that time as a result of growing environmental consciousness. Despite setbacks over the last two decades, the sense of urgency growing from the undeniable fact of global warming, and the efforts of highly visible leaders like Al Gore (as well as myriads of musicians and celebrities) have resulted in the environment once again being among the primary issues on our political agenda.
Uetz says he is also heartened by the individual and collective efforts that people make on a daily basis on a local and global level to recycle, to conserve energy, to create sustainable alternatives, to protect wildlife and biodiversity, and to seek as many ways as possible reduce our carbon footprint.
The importance of environmental awareness, education and the message of conservation and sustainability is a continuing legacy of the original Earth Day.
|Contact: Wendy Hart Beckman|
University of Cincinnati