Earth Day Birthday

over 3 years ago

Here's a little known fact: in 1970, when the first Earth Day was celebrated, the FBI conducted surveillance over the demonstration sites in case the date —April 22nd— was surreptitiously selected to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of late Communist leader Vladimir Lenin. While the day did not result in any environmentally inspired, subversive activity, it has come to be associated with the leanings, teachings and green worship of the left wing of the environmental movement.

For the growing community of folks who comprise the eco-right, that's too bad. Sit ins, chain ins, and overt displays of demonstration are not our tools. We have our own way of thinking and talking about the Earth that differs from the traditional leftist dogma, but leaves our ranks no less compassionate or concerned for her myriad ailments. Yet as a growing number of right-of-center activists and policymakers repeatedly encounter, it isn't easy being eco-friendly in a political party with, as noted by former presidential candidate and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, no defined environmental platform. But the trend line is shifting as more environmentally conscious conservatives urge lawmakers to support policies that protect the environment without imposing the heavy hand of regulation. Earth Day represents a time to celebrate this uptick of conservative support for pragmatic solutions; our proposals deserve equal consideration. This day belongs as much to the eco-right as it does the environmental left.

As the more than 190 countries that celebrate Earth Day prepare to commemorate its 46th birthday, there is no doubt as to what is the number one issue facing the world. Here at home, a rapidly changing climate threatens not just expensive houses built along (mostly) federally subsidized coastlines, but agricultural bounty, potable water, and public health. Climate change has the potential to make previously prolific farming areas arid, dry up water resources, and make mosquito-borne diseases more prevalent. At the risk of sounding the 21st century alarm equivalent of the Doomsday rumors rampant at the first Earth Day, scientists predict that due to climate change, sea levels will rise, crop yields will fluctuate, and annoying pests (think: an almighty and deathly mosquito) will get peskier.

In other words, absent significant and coordinated global action, the planet is going to be in a real bind. Scientific-based predictions are not just the stuff of sci-fi movies. But the debate feels log-jammed between the two extremes. Whether climate skeptic or diehard believer in a regulatory approach, there's never been a better time for all sides and spectrums of the issue to take a glance at what an accountable, transparent free enterprise-based approach can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The severity of the risks posed by climate change deserve —and demand— more than one day of linking hands with and/or preaching Kumbaya to the choir. The time calls for creative collaboration. The heart-on-the-sleeve passion of the left plus the economic pragmatism of the right can equal the most effective path forward to reduce harmful carbon pollution and get the planet right —and green— again. And that would be an accomplishment worth commemorating.

By Chelsea Henderson