What a Wonderful World

          Last Thursday, amidst the cold, dreary days of Spring in Arcata, we were lucky enough to have one bright, glorious day of sun. To take advantage of the sun’s beaming presence, my boyfriend and I set out for the typical sunny day locale: the beach. After a ten minute drive from my home in Arcata’s Janes Creek subdivision, we arrived at Mad River Beach, eager to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. However, upon exiting the car we were taken aback by the extreme blustering winds smacking us in the face, so we ventured across the beach with our beautiful pitbull by our side, seeking refuge in a slope between the sand dunes. With our toes burrowing in the sand like little crabs, we trudged barefoot through the dunes in search of the perfect picnic spot. As we strolled along, I scoured the shore for washed up sea treasures, keeping in mind all the litter I’d be coming across as well. During my hunt, I picked up a sand dollar, a crab claw with its hinge still intact, two almost perfect seashells, a couple of smooth stones, and (oh yeah) 26 cigarette butts, 9 bottle caps (5 plastic and 4 metal), one lighter, three beer cans, one plastic bottle, and a plethora of random garbage scraps left behind from beach-goers prior. Luckily, I actually came prepared with gloves and plastic bags, because this Earth Day I felt like I needed to make a difference, and it all started with cleaning up trash.

Forty years ago marks the birth of Earth Day, but before that original day of observance four decades ago, there were no laws or regulations established to protect the environment. Factories everywhere were free to leak toxic chemicals into the air and water. Many species’ habitats were being encroached upon, and there was little concern for the endangerment of species with clear declines in their populations. Since nothing was being done to the preserve the earth and the health of it’s inhabitants, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson decided to step up and make a change. He announced his idea for schools to hold an environmental teach-in that year to raise awareness on issues that caused environmental degradation. Expecting to appeal to Congress at the grassroots level, Nelson’s teach-in instead inspired a nationwide outcry of organized groups rallying together, seeking to spread awareness and show initiative by protesting multiple environmental issues and taking on a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

In response to the widespread movement, Congress passed a bill establishing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or the EPA. The purpose of the federal agency is to fix the damage this planet has endured and to protect it from further degradation, as well as provide citizens with structural guidelines for maintaining a cleaner, greener environment. Since its creation, the EPA has enforced numerous regulations on the environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Food Quality Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Of course, whenever an agency is established to address controversial issues, there will always be naysayers. For instance, the EPA has been slandered for not promptly fixing serious issues like global warming; however, we have to consider who’s really at fault here though: the EPA who issued a report to the White House claiming that there is sufficient scientific evidence that the earth is experiencing rapid change, or the White House itself, where a government official carelessly ignored the statement’s urgency and altered the report to downplay the severity and factualness of the climate change the earth is undergoing. Nonetheless, even with the EPA’s weaknesses, Earth Day should be celebrated for all the good the agency has done, as well as the capacity of humans to do good. There are many organizations supporting different environmental causes to join, endless coastlines covered in debris to clean, vast expanses of land to plant trees and luscious gardens on, and an entire planet to save. If you’re not adversely affected by the planet’s withering state, somewhere along your bloodline, someone will be, and if that’s not enough to make you want to live greener, than I don’t know what is.

As for me, the concern for my children’s future is enough. This Earth Day, I wore an old shirt of mine with the words “Save the Future” printed on the front, which I honestly wasn‘t sure what it was referring to when I bought it. But after a few years of new, profound knowledge, awareness, and exceptional concern for this planet, I have come to realize what it my shirt is trying to posit. Now, more than ever, humans need to get involved in protecting this earth, because we are in a time of dire consequences where the anthropogenic impact has become increasingly clear. Since we cannot ignore the obvious, let’s do something about it. Let us all clean up after ourselves, recycle, reduce our carbon footprint, prevent pollution, plant a seed. Let’s give back to the earth what it gave us to begin with: Life. But let’s not make this day an annual day-to-take-action, but rather a celebration of the simple steps you take every day in making this world a little greener. Earth Day isn’t meant to simply recognize what the EPA has done for the environment, but also to recognize our own strengths as humans on this earth and to utilize them to save the future for our children and their children and their children‘s children.

Suzanne Stenecker-Dieckman

One Response to “What a Wonderful World”

  1. Sean says:

    Enjoyed the video program on Access Humboldt, EDUC8 channel.


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