Does Earth Day matter?

Today is Earth Day, according to a tradition established in 1970 to focus attention on the environment. Today’s Question: Does Earth Day matter?

  • Neil Sorensen

    For me, every day is earth day. If you own a car, you are an earth destroyer, not just because they pollute, but because of all the materials that go into them, the mines they support and the infrastructure they precipitate. I gave up car culture long ago. I also eat all organic, grow some of my own food, use little electricity, conserve water (this is the area where I need the most improvement), compost and use only ‘environmentally friendly’ and recycled products. I reject consumerist culture.

  • Dmox

    I’d like to think that environmental awareness have become mainstream enough that we don’t need to have an Earth Day. That said, I think Earth Day was one of the driving factors in raising our awareness about these matters.

  • Gary F

    Nope. I’m frugal, or some call me cheap, so turning off lights or being energy efficient is just part of being cheap and not part of a “religion”.

    To many, “environmentalism” has become a religion. I don’t.

    I just used a disposable coffee cup this morning instead of my ceramic cup because it is earth day.

    And, the earth is not your mother. You mother carried you for nine months in her womb, gave birth to you, wiped you face and butt about a million times, fed you, held you when you cried, held you when you fell off your bike, fell out of a tree and broke your wrist, fixed you up when you cut your hand with your first jackknife, worried when you took the car out for the first time alone, then stayed up because you didn’t call and came home late,

    and so on. Your real mother deserves the credit.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I forgot it was Earth Day until I read this question. So apparently it doesn’t matter.

  • EAL

    Environmentalism has tragically taken on a myopic view that humans are a virus on this earth. We must use but not abuse all the earthly resources available to us. It is also perhaps more imortant for individual priorities to be focused on the senior citizen who needs a friend, the inner-city child who cannot read or write or others less fortunate.

  • Marilee

    My 4-year-old son has been saying “everyday is Earth Day.” Maybe this is one sign that Earth Day has come a long way in building awareness. Let’s hope the next generation thinks this way, too.

  • Lawrence

    Earth Day was initially started to get people to think about ways that they could preserve the environment, such as recycling, reducing all forms of pollution, planting trees instead of displacing them, etc. Ironically, while Earth Day itself may not catch the attention of many, it has caught the attention of many elected officials to the point that several cities HAVE regular recycling pickups, bottled purified water can be found at every grocery store and gas station, several urban development projects now include some environmental preservation and protection of lands. Based on that, I would have to say that while the Day itself doesn’t consciously register for most Americans, it has generated some beneficial behaviors and policies.

  • Chad

    Of course. Does the earth matter?

  • Josh D

    As mentioned by others, I think that Earth Day has become less celebrated/relevant because so many of the things they were working for in the 70’s are now mainstream: recycling, not littering, moderate energy conservation, (not spraying your children with DDT), ect. But a revitalization of Earth Day has never been more needed. The proverbial “going green” is far from enough and unless people, especially Americans, change their wasteful ways, the world will pay the consequences both environmentally and economically.

  • Josh D

    As mentioned by others, I think that Earth Day has become less celebrated/relevant because so many of the things they were working for in the 70’s are now mainstream: recycling, not littering, moderate energy conservation, (not spraying your children with DDT), ect. But a revitalization of Earth Day has never been more needed. The proverbial “going green” is far from enough and unless people, especially Americans, change their wasteful ways, the world will pay the consequences both environmentally and economically.

  • Khatti

    I think it is inevitable that social movements are going to go through some tight times. If you look at the history of any institution (that has any history) you’ll see that there were times when the participants looked at each other and wondered if it was time to pack it up and go home.

    Having said that, I do think this is a good time for the Environmental Movement to reappraise its tactics. What amazes me about environmentalists is not that they have engendered so much hostility, but that people are surprised that they have engendered so much hostility.

    There is no social movement in the country that is more quintessentially a Sixties movement than the Environmental Movement. There is no cause that better highlights the character flaws and social diseases of that Sixties mindset than the Environmental Movement. I watched the PBS program The American Experience this week. Not surprisingly, it dealt with the early days of the Environmental Movement. I saw a lot of people who were active in the Sixties. They all still had that air about them: that charming combination of clinical depression and disappointed misanthropy, which hung like a cloud over so many Sixties activists. The self-righteousness was still there as well. I was not overcome with nostalgia.

    Like so many Left-of-Center types, environmentalists are not known for playing well with others. Like all political types, environmentalists discount the consequences their policies have on their political opponents. On the Left everyone loves talking about FREEING THE SLAVES, nobody talks about SHOOTING THE SOUTHERNERS. The fact that the two activities are joined at the hip is studiously ignored.

    I am such a tree-hugger that I raise trees as a hobby. During the Nineties, few people were more in favor of saving the ancient forests of the Pacific than I was. Still, it would have only been fair if the people who agitated the most fiercely to save the forests of the Pacific Northwest, were the people who walked through the bars in Idaho telling drunken lumberjacks that their jobs were gone—and why their jobs were gone. I worry about global warming, and I’m willing to do a lot to keep coal in North Dakota in the ground. But keeping coal in the ground means that a lot of North Dakota kids, who could be making 15-25 dollars an hour in the mines, are going to be fighting over that job at the Seven-Eleven. Can anyone blame those kids for joining the Tea Party?

    Today is going to be spent talking to the wrong people. If the Environmental Movement wants to keep moving, it needs to spend more time talking to shrinks and less time talking to tree-huggers. Many of the Movement’s problems are psychological problems. It isn’t enough to oppose entrenched interests, they now need to learn how to defuse entrenched interests.

  • kennedy

    Earth Day will remain relevant as long as our actions impact the environment we live in. It serves to remind us all that what we choose to do makes a difference.

  • Patrick from Anoka

    Earth Day only matters to tree-hugging busybodies who want to strangle our economy with overly restrictive laws that kill jobs.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    While Earth Day might be a bit passe, and the original celebrants somewhat naive, most of the ecological health trendlines worldwide remain downward. The most worrisome trend is the persistant upward trend of human population growth, which more than offsets gains in energy efficiency, recycling, or the reduction of pollution emissions by industry.

    I really don’t like the label “environmentalist”, because it tends to group people into a monolithic, Dooms-Day category. But if you are open to scientific fact and observation, and want your decendents to live the good life, as defined by abundant open space, clean air and water, reliable supplies of food, and a reasonably stable economy– then attacking/solving the many environmental problems facing the planet (and humanity) should be a top priority.

    The freedom of your grandkids certainly depends on it.

  • Patrick

    Of course Earth Day matters. This is a silly question. Any tool that can be used to create awareness about environmental issues is very relevant. The problem is that it only seems to matter to a minority of people. As the supply clean air, water and natural space grow more limited Earth day will begin to matter to more people. Sadly I fear a great deal of suffering on everybody’s part is what it’s going to take to get the attention of those people however.

    And to Gary F. With all do respect to your mother and all other mothers. The earth is your mother. All life is possible because of this thin delicate “womb” that covers the surface of our planet. This layer of life on the surface of a rock in space is utterly unique as far as we know. It should not be hard to conclude that this one of a kind thing, without which we die, should be protected with extreme zeal. “Environmentalism” should be the only religion and those who practice it should be praised. It is “gods’” work.

  • Matt

    Earth Day matters because it reminds us that we are not living in balance with the Earth. This one day is like the birthday of the realization that we are killing our planets’ ecosystem. Not everyone will celebrate this occation but more celebrate it every year. Most importantly, just as a person continues to exist beyond the celebration of their birthday, the life of the movement to reverse the damage we have done to our planet continues to live and grow. Keep it alive by making it a normal part of your life to think about how your daily actions effect your environment and share what you get with your friends and neighbors. Happy Earthday!

  • Jacob MacGlauphlin

    “Does Earth Day Matter?” is like asking if any day of recognition matters. Does Christmas matter? Does Mother’s Day matter? Does July 4th matter?

    As the Global Climate Change facts have come into focus, the actions we take become more about changing personal behavior (and laws). For real progress moving forward, a shift in consciousness and a true awareness of ourselves as a species among many is required.

    Plant a tree. Find ways to have a smaller footprint. 10% smaller a year, 20%?

    Everyday is Earth Day. Share, be kind.

  • bill

    I think it did. Before Earth Day, companies like 3M were leaders (really) in environmental responsibility but companies like Union Carbide, Dupont and other old time companies were not. As Earth Day became more popular even the older companies came around to less energy intensive production methods and more responsible product development. In addition, it became acceptable as a scientist or engineer to have environmental concerns rather than being ridiculed by peers. Finally, companies saw this as a market to development. Does Earth Day, matter, yes indeed.

  • Tom

    Does Mother’s Day matter?

    It matters if we make it matter.

  • Steven

    Patrick (et al.), if you want to encourage wide-spread support for environmentalism, you’d best drop the religion angle. I often disagree with Gary F., but he’s right about this: the earth is not your mother. Christians, and others who eschew such idolatrous ideas as Mother Earth, have a different way of looking at it. We call it “stewardship of creation” and consider it one of our God-given responsibilities (along with caring for the poor and disadvantaged among us). But if you want to alienate Christians from the environmental movement, keep ranting on about Mother Earth.