In case you do not know or remember, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River has had a long history of catching fire. By 1868, it had caught fire thirteen times. One of the worst blazes occurred in 1912, causing five deaths. A fire in 1952, resulted in millions of dollars in damage.
But it was the fire in 1969 that caught everyone’s attention. Unlike the previous fires, this one was seen “live” on televisions all over the country and around the world.
It is because of this fire that steps were taken to start protecting the world we live in. Pushed by then US Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, and a celebration to honor our planet has been held every April 22 since then.
We have come so far since that last fire. Our air is much cleaner as is our water. And even in today’s political climate, many polluters are still being held accountable for the damage they do to the environment.
But as we celebrate Earth Day 2018, we do have two key challenges ahead of us.
The first is remembering our history. None of us want to see the Cuyahoga River or any other river in the world catch fire again. Our challenge then is to make sure we remember our history, the progress we have made, and make sure we never pollute our air or water like that ever again.
The second challenge is for us all to take action. We must all take steps in our homes, communities, and workplaces, to use energy, fuel, water and our other natural assets more efficiently. We must always ask ourselves if our actions are protective of human health and the environment, and promote sustainability.
And one more thing, we must realize that we are not just living on this planet, we are caretakers of this planet. And this is a planet with limited size, resources, and capacity at a time when global population continues to grow, as does the demand for energy, water, food and other products, including cleaning products.
So this Earth Day I hope you will take some time to appreciate where we have come and all we have accomplished.
And that we each find a way to celebrate those actions in our businesses, schools, homes, churches, sports and entertainment venues, and daily life. Our children and future generations are counting on us, but they won’t know what has been done if we don’t tell them and lead by example.