April 29, 2020

Thoughts on Earth Day Regarding Responsible Environmental Policies

To the Editor:

As I write this on Earth Day 2020, I find myself thinking back to Earth Day 1970. On that day, 50 years ago, after participating in the first Earth Day Rally, a number of us went down to Carnegie Lake. A badly deteriorated road ran along the north shore of the lake from Washington Road to Broadmead. With the support of the University, we dug up portions of the old road and planted trees to enhance the beauty and cleanliness of the lakeshore.

Those small events, and thousands more like them around the country, marked the beginning of an environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and many other milestones in the protection of our health and well-being, all of which the current administration is tragically dismantling.

Paradoxically, the COVID-19 pandemic, as horrible as it is, is having one beneficial effect. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have noticed how clean our air has been in the last few weeks because of fewer cars and trucks on the roads and fewer planes in the air. (Residents of Northern India are reportedly able to get views of the Himalayas for the first time in decades.)

I’m certainly not suggesting that the economy should remain shut down any longer than is necessary to keep us safe from the current pandemic; but this beautifully clear air does offer a hint of the air quality that we might be able to achieve once we adopt responsible environmental policies that wean us from our addiction to fossil fuels.

So I propose that on this Earth Day we commit ourselves to two goals: first, to remove the current White House occupant at the ballot box in November, and having done so, restore the environmental protections that the administration is so determined to undermine; and second, to continue to build on the environmental gains that have been made in the last 50 years, so that in the decades to come our grandchildren will inherit a cleaner and more sustainable planet.

Bill Dix
Snowden Lane