“Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money.” -- A Cree Tribe Proverb from 350 years ago.
In 1762, after coal was discovered, Pittsburgh began to be known as the “Smoky City” or as “Hell with the Lid Off.” Still there were people who believed the smoke was good for their lungs and helped crops grow.
In the spring of 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring sold more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and the links between pollution and public health.
This long history of struggle between Earth’s natural environment and economic and industrial progress culminated with the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970; a day set aside for a “national teach-in on the environment,” observed on 2,000 college campuses, 10,000 public schools, in over 2,000 communities. An estimated 20 million Americans participated in teach-ins, demonstrations, and other Earth Day activities. The message was that we were killing the Earth and we needed to “act or die.”
I often say we knew all we needed to know about saving our planet in the 70s. Yet, here we are celebrating the 49th Earth Day with signs of climate change intensifying daily. We have scientists urging us to act before it is too late, while simultaneously some planners are looking at ways to design cities that float.
The truth of what we need to do has been with us all along. We know what we need to do to save Earth. The question is not knowledge, it is will.
I’m Dan Kenney and that’s my perspective.