Letter to the Editor: Earth Day every day at Tulane

John Alexander

Dear Editor,

April 22nd was Earth Day! Like most Earth Days at Tulane, it went largely unnoticed apart from a select few individuals who think every day is Earth Day. Every day should make us, as Tulanians, reflect on what we can do for the Earth.

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day started in 1970 following the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which laid the groundwork for raising conversations around public health and pollution, living organisms and the environment. Earth Day was started by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson after the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He witnessed the student anti-war movement and wanted to infuse the environmental movement with the same energy and vigor. Working with Pete McCloskey as a Republican co-chair and Denis Hayes as a national coordinator, the three started to build the national campaign. Earth Day has been tied to students from the very beginning; April 22nd was the chosen date specifically because it fell right between spring break and final exams for students.

Tens of millions of Americans participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. One of the largest populations that took part was students. This ragtag group of activists who had been fighting for different causes from oil spills to pesticides to wildlife extinction realized they shared common values and found unity in Earth Day. In doing so Earth Day achieved what is now regarded as a political rarity. It garnered support from all walks of life, even across the political divide between Republicans and Democrats. The first Earth Day led to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passing of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Who should act on Earth Day?

Everyone! At the very least, we can all take one little action and, if so inclined, reach out and tell others about why you took action on Earth Day. Even the smallest act, when performed by enough people, can have a big impact.

What should we do on Earth Day?

Earth Day is a time for reflection and action. It is a time to reflect on our own environmentalism throughout the year and to recognize our own successes and failures for this Earth. As for the action, let’s all make a conscious effort to pick up that plastic cup tumbling by and toss it into a proper recycle bin, use a refillable water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles, take a walk among the beautiful trees of New Orleans or just take a minute to enjoy nature by tossing a frisbee on the quad.

When should we think of Earth?

April 22, 2018 is Earth Day! Beyond today, we need to think and act for the planet every day of the year. Earth Day just serves as a reminder of what we should be doing all the time.

Where should I take action?

Many Tulanians come from places that are far more environmentally aware than New Orleans and many of us come from places that are far less so. Regardless of where we come from, we are all Tulanians now, living in a city that is constantly struggling to maintain its own existence. If we want to thrive here, it is time that we each own up to our responsibility to help New Orleans and contribute to a cleaner, greener Tulane.

Why should I care about Earth Day?

The environment is a non-partisan issue. The Earth is for all of us, so let’s start treating it with reverence. Earth Day is about moving towards a cleaner environment, using our finite natural resources responsibly and giving back to an Earth we enjoy so deeply.

Earth Day is a time for us to celebrate the Earth and to look forward to a brighter future. We all need to get outside a little more, breathe some more fresh air and enjoy this beautiful Earth on which we live. So get outside and take a walk, sit and watch the birds fly over or simply write up that last minute paper while sitting under the oaks. Whatever you do, just take in and appreciate the beauty and wonder of what surrounds you because, as far as we know, this Earth is one-of-a-kind.

What will you do for a cleaner, greener Tulane?

John Harris Alexander

Director of Sustainability, Undergraduate Student Government

To submit a letter to the editor, send it [email protected].

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