Although it is still three weeks until Mother’s Day, I am writing today about taking care of Mother Earth. This week marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, so it is a fitting time to think about taking care of our planet.
The First Earth Day
Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970. Do you old-timers remember that important event that celebrates its 50th birthday this week?
To be honest, I don’t remember that day. I was living and teaching in Japan at that time, struggling at the beginning of a new semester to teach Christian Studies in Japanese to hundreds of university students. And at home, my wife June was in the third trimester of her pregnancy with our third child.
Actually, though, for the first 20 years, Earth Day was mainly an event celebrated in the U.S. and did not become international until 1990. But those early years were important for the environmental movement in the U.S.
Gaylord Nelson, the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, was the founder of Earth Day. In 1995, Nelson (1916~2005) was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his environmental work.
In its beginning, Earth Day was bipartisan in its support and appeal. The co-chair who served with Sen. Nelson was Pete McCloskey, who was at the time a Republican U.S. Representative from California.
One of the ongoing effects of that first Earth Day was the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). President Nixon proposed the establishment of the EPA in July 1970 and it began operation in December of that year after he signed an executive order.
The Clean Air Act of 1963 came under the aegis of the EPA, and then the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 were signed into law by President Nixon.
Yes, taking care of Mother Earth used to be a bipartisan concern.
Earth Day Now
There are extensive plans for the celebration of Earth Day 2020, and I encourage you to check out the Earth Day website for this year’s events, which they say will be “the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people.”
Enthusiastic observance of Earth Day in the U.S. is especially important now, for the Trump Administration has rolled back many of the programs/activities that started 50 years ago.
Ten days ago, PBS posted “During the Coronavirus Crisis, the Trump Administration’s Environmental Rollbacks Continue.” And it has already been two and a half years since PBS aired “War on the EPA” on their October 2017 Frontline presentation.
Much of that war on the EPA, as documented in the PBS program, was led by Scott Pruitt, President Trumps’s first appointed head of the Agency. Pruitt, a conservative Southern Baptist from Oklahoma, served as head of the EPA from February 2017 to July 2018.
CBN reported in 2018 that Pruitt was “one of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members who sponsors and attends a weekly Cabinet Bible study led by Ralph Drollinger, president and founder of Capitol Ministries.”
Things did not improve much when Andrew Wheeler became head of the EPA in February of last year. He previously worked in the law firm that represented a coal magnate and lobbied against the Obama Administration’s environmental regulations.
Yes, much needs to be done to take care of Mother Earth — not only because of what is being undone now but also because of the many necessary things that have not yet been done.
The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24:1, KJV).
A version of this article first appeared on Seat’s blog, The View from This Seat. It is used with permission.