Con: In 1970, bipartisan trio led by Nixon visualized green jobs spearheading today’s economy
Although last December’s Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change turned into a fiasco for a number of reasons, now is no time to retrench from the goals of the original Earth Day, which was observed for the first time at the 1969 UNESCO Conference on the Environment, and led to the enactment in 1970 of America’s Clean Air Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
Environmentally conscious senators, including Democrats Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and Ed Muskie of Maine, saw the need for the world to address the issue of pollution and they gave their all to ensure that laws were passed to clean up the environment.
President Nixon, to his credit, also established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970—a testament to the success of the early “green pioneers.” President Obama and the Congress should, on Thursday’s Earth Day, continue in the bipartisan legacy of Nixon, Nelson, and Muskie and promote the cause of green, non-carbon based energy.
Current troublesome environmental trends call for greater reliance on green energy. Not only are the atmosphere and oceans heating up, but a recent University of Maryland study showed the temperature of our nation’s rivers has increased by 3 degrees Celsius over the past couple of decades.
If the rise in river temperatures continues, there will be a catastrophic effect on flora and fauna dependent on rivers and streams, the quality of drinking water and more destructive “heat island” effects in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Memphis and Portland, Oregon that sit on rivers.
The president and Congress should rise above the debate over the feasibility of the carbon trading scheme—there are legitimate points about the program being another Wall Street scam—and continue to push forward with the green economy proposals to limit carbon-based emission from vehicles and factories.
The world’s fragile bio-system cannot afford to wait as Wall Street scamsters try to capitalize on a precarious environmental situation that was created largely by vulture capitalists.
For example, the dwindling population of Leatherback turtles, which feed on jellyfish, is resulting in an increase in jellyfish numbers. The result is that jellyfish are eating newly born fish, which affects the entire food chain up to and including humans.
Innumerable similar biodiversity catastrophic effects from climate change can be cited, but it is sufficient to say that the reduction of pollution is as important today as it was on the first Earth Day in 1969.
The rise in acidity of our oceans is causing the death of coral reefs. Once a coral reef dies, it is permanent and the resulting domino effect on the creatures that live in the sea and birds and land animals that depend on them for food is catastrophic. If present trends continue, all the world’s coral reefs could be dead by the end of this century.
This Earth Day, President Obama and Congress should, through action and not mere words, recommit themselves to a green program and emulate such diverse entities as Major League Baseball, the Chicago Transit Authority and Coca Cola, as well as several colleges, universities and churches that are sponsoring recycling, solar power usage and green education programs.
The climate change naysayers will likely never be won over. It is time to disregard their rants and move on to taking the steps necessary to preserve our planet for future generations.
Environmental protection was not a political issue in 1969 and 1970, as witnessed by the commitments made by Republican President Nixon and key Democratic senators such as Nelson and Muskie. It should not be a political now.
Wayne Madsen is a contributing writer to the progressive Online Journal (www.onlinejournal.com). Readers may write to him c/o National Press Club, Front Desk, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.