This is a column in a monthly series called “No Planet B” written by Sustainability and Energy Management Coordinator Chelsea Malacara and her sustainability interns. This series aims to provide insight into how we can start thinking and making sustainable choices on campus for a better future.
In the years leading up to the first Earth Day, things looked gray for planet Earth. In the USA, “Americans consumed large amounts of leaded gasolineand companies were pumping pollutants onto land, into waterways and into the air. It was not until the publication in 1962 of the book by Rachel Carson “Silent Spring” that people have started to think about the environment and the impact of their way of life on it.
During the 50s and 60sthe insecticide DDT was widely used in the agricultural industry to help protect crops. Studies found that some animals exposed to DDT developed tumors in their livers and adverse reproductive effects were suspected in humans and other animals. Finally, in 1972the EPA “issued an order to rescind DDT due to its adverse environmental effects” due to its negative impact on wildlife and potential risks to humans.
In 1969 the oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, as seen by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, inspired many to take action to advocate for environmental protection and conservation. Senator Nelson announcement the idea of teaching around university campuses to the media. He asked David Hayes, founder of the Earth Day Network, to hold classes on a weekday between spring break and finals, April 22, 1970.
The creation of Earth Day served as the launch pad for a decade of change.
At Oct. On December 3, 1970, the United States government established the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
During the 1970s, the United States enacted some of the most important environmental laws and regulations such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (1969), the Clean Air Act (CAA) (1970), the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments (CWA) (1972), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) (1972), Endangered Species Act (ESA) (1973), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (1976), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) (1980).
Before these movements and these laws, it was “perfectly legal” a factory to dump toxic waste into nearby waterways or to “spit out black clouds of toxic smoke”. The year after the first Earth Day, 25% of Americans surveyed in May “said protecting the environment was an important goal.”
By 1990, these laws and their amendments have been implemented and enforced. It’s later than year that environmental leaders have proposed the idea of making Earth Day a global event in which the whole world participates by defending the environment and changing its way of life. Earth Day April 22n/a1990, sparked recycling efforts around the world and “prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role as Founder of Earth Day.
All year, more and more people are participating in Earth Day activities, which means that more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of protecting the planet. While we should think of every day as Earth Day, the day itself is an important reminder to care for the Earth and consider the possible consequences of our actions.
Celebrate Earth Month 2022 in Marquette
- Earth Day Reuse Fair, April 11am-2pm, AMU Lawn: Shop for new clothes, accessories and household items or come and turn an old t-shirt into a tote bag!
Marquette University Highlights
- 2014- MUSG spent $55,000 on water bottle filling stations and the take-out box system.
- 2016- Marquette hires its first sustainable development coordinator in addition to implementing environmental studies and environmental engineering for the majors.
- 2016-MUSG funds the installation of the Bublr bike rack on campus
- 2018-Campus cafes adopted compostable cups in place of plastic cups.
- 2018-Marquette publishes its first campus sustainability plan
- 2019-Marquette converted all lights in 16andLED street parking garage
- 2020-Foundation of Sustainable Marquette Employee Resource Group
- 2021-Four bicycle repair stations installed on campus
This story was written by Alvaro Clara. He is a sustainability intern for Chelsea Malacara, sustainability and energy management coordinator for Marquette University. He’s not a Wire staffer. He can be reached at [email protected]