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Monday, April 23, 2012

HAWMC Day 23, Health Activist Choice Day 2

Todays' challenge topic is, Health Activist Choice Day 2; Write about whatever you like.

Since yesterday was Earth Day I will keep with the "green" theme and look back at the accomplishments Earth Day has brought us throughout the years. An estimated one in 10 Americans took part in the first Earth Day, observed across the country on April 22, 1970. Earth Day was the brainchild of Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson. The first national Earth Day unified a growing public concern about environmental crises. In December 1970, President Richard Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Executive Order as a federal response to growing environmental concerns. Since then Earth Day has brought about many changes.

Clean Water: Two short years after the formation of the EPA, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, a modification of the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, to regulate quality standards for surface waters and stop the discharges of pollutants into rivers, lakes and other waterways. 

Clean Air: A few weeks after the EPA was formed, Congress passed the Clean Air Act. Under the new law, the EPA was authorized to set limits on air pollutants like ozone and carbon monoxide, as well as to regulate emissions from factories, power plants and vehicles. State and regional agencies assumed responsibility for carrying out the Clean Air Act at the local level. With its new responsibilities, the EPA set numerous air quality regulations in motion, including controlling auto emissions and banning the use of DDT.

Waste Management: In 1976, the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act became law. Among other things, the law mandated that landfills be closely monitored and enacted America's hazardous waste management program. Since 1970, the U.S. recycling rate has grown from a mere 6.6 percent to 34.1 percent in 2010, according to the most recent EPA data available. Due to increased regulations and recycling, the number of landfills in America has also decreased dramatically, from nearly 8,000 in 1988 to 1,767 in 2002.

Increased Awareness: Since 1970, Earth Day has grown into a global celebration. An estimated 1 billion people in 180 countries participated in Earth Day in 2010. About 77 percent of Americans now say they worry about protecting the environment; this is up from 1970 when the percentage of citizens who cited cleaning up air and water as one of their top three political priorities was at 53 percent.

We have come a long way and accomplished many wonderful things since the first Earth Day in 1970, but we still have much to do. Now more than ever it is important for us to be conscious of our global footprint. Global Footprint Network estimates that approximately every nine months, we have demanded a level of services from nature equivalent to what the planet can provide for all of 2012, this date is Earth Overshoot Day. What exactly does this mean? We make up this deficit by depleting stocks of fish, trees and other resources, and by accumulating waste such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans. We are now using the Earth’s resources at a rate that would take between 1.3 and 1.5 planets to sustainably support our current practices. The research shows us on track to require the resources of two Earths well before mid-century.

Even though Earth Day is over, it doesn't mean we should wait until next year's Earth Day before we do something to change. In the words of Albert Einstein, "those with the privilege to know, have a duty to act."

What did you do for Earth Day this year?  What practices have you made a part of your daily life?

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