Earth Day at 40: The Politics Finally Erupt
I was stuck in Europe most of this week, traveling by taxi from London to Spain to try to catch a flight amid the shower of volcanic dust spewing over the skies from Iceland. As the earthquakes rumble and the volcanoes spew around the world, it makes me wonder if the Earth is screaming at us for how we consume and devastate her resources. Maybe those eruptions haven’t occurred close enough to home for folks in the U.S. to take notice, but we’re about to get a few wake-up calls of our own.
This week, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with the usual festivals and local clean-ups. But there are major rumblings about to erupt underneath these local actions and events. Next week, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) are poised to release a draft for a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill. Meanwhile, the Clean Air Act (CAA) is under attacked from many different fronts, despite being one of the most effective tools we have right now to crack down on the largest emitters of global warming pollution. Both items could merge next week: the CAA could be stripped of any regulatory authority in a new bill draft, or the bill draft itself could do little to actually curb CO2 and spur the clean energy jobs we need for our economy and our planet.
A clean energy bill may get its moment in the sun as a major piece of legislation in the Senate, long overdue after the House version of the bill passed last summer. But we need to keep the CAA strong with legislation and in spite of legislation. The next major step is to continue to motivate and engage the movement in order to achieve a large-scale victory against the fossil fuel interests that are still trying to cling to their remaining power base no matter what the ultimate costs to our communities, our economy, and the planet. Demonstrating that we can win a sizable victory with this coalition (see our blogs from our recent “Storms” of Senate and Representative offices), whether it is through strong comprehensive legislation, defending the Clean Air Act, or helping to generate the investment needed to create millions of good paying domestic clean energy jobs, will change the definition of what is possible in this movement and on this issue. Once we have rewritten the conventional wisdom, other victories that once seemed out of reach will be within our grasp.
So, I am grateful to be back in the U.S. with my family and staff at 1Sky, examining what’s at stake in the Senate and for our planet moving forward. Will next week’s bill propose a new way forward or just preserve the status quo? Will we have a Clean Air Act intact and worthy of the Supreme Court’s mandate to regulate CO2? Will next week’s events be that wake-up call for Americans and lead us to new ways to create energy and reduce CO2? Will the movement push these new realties forward? My hope is that this eruption in clean energy legislation will be the driving force we’ll note when we celebrate Earth Day’s 41st birthday next year.
Happy Earth Day! Now, let’s get to work.
**More Care2 Earth Day Coverage**
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING EARTH DAY:
- Come Celebrate Earth Day with Care2! – Nicole Nuss
- Seven Ways to Get Involved for Earth Day – Beth Buczynski
- Get Out! For a Free Book Giveaway! – Judy Molland
- Now is the Time – Angel Flinn
- Don’t Toss that Plastic Bottle – Jennifer Mueller
- White House Initiative – Dave Rochlin
HOW ARE ANIMALS AFFECTED?
- Top Ten Endangered Species – Sharon Seltzer
- A Review of Disneynature’s Oceans – Beth Buczynski
- Eating as if the Earth Matters – Heather Moore
THINGS TO PONDER
- Four Rules To Save The Planet – Nancy Roberts
- Earth…Gay? Coming Out for Sustainability – Steve Williams
- Family Planning and Earth Day – JamieAlexis Fowler
- All My Sisters: Avoiding Breast Cancer – Angel Flinn
- Humans are the Earth’s Problem AND its Solution – Beth Buczynski
- Earth Day at 40: The Politics Erupt – Gillian Caldwell
- Gambling with Global Warming – Beth Buczynski
THOSE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
- 2010 Goldman Environmental Awards – Nancy Roberts
- Climate Champion Dr. James Hansen – Nicole Nuss
- Boyd Cohen’s Quest to Offset Carbon – Suzi Parrasch
- 350.org’s Bill McKibben – Nicole Nuss
- Reverb’s Adam Gardner – Nicole Nuss
Photo from New York Storm Rally compliments of Lauren Schuster, NYPIRG