Society

Celebrating 40 years of ‘Earth Day’

SHAWN WALTON

I n 1962 biologist and ecologist Rachel Carson published the book “Silent Spring”, documenting the detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, especially birds. It sold half a million books, launching the modern day environmental movement, and was responsible for the banning of DDT as a pesticide.

Eight years after the publication of “Silent Spring”, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, called for a national discussion about the environment. He had just seen the aftermath of a massive oil spill in California, and wanting to take advantage of the increasing interest in curbing pollution, loss of wild lands, and declining wildlife populations, he pushed environmentalism into the forefront of American politics.

Senator Nelson achieved a rare coming together of diverse interests when he organized the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Twenty million Americans, from all walks of life, economic backgrounds, and political persuasions, participated in rallies and demonstrations for a healthy environment. The success of that first Earth Day led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

In 1990 the U.S. took Earth Day global. Over 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated the rich ecological heritage of our planet. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The official Earth Day organization is celebrating by promoting “A Billion Acts of Green”, which rewards both the small acts of individuals and the larger contributions of corporations that promote sustainable living. The goal is to get one billion actions in time for the Earth Summit in 2012. Go here for more information: act.earthday.org/.

The Earth Day mantra has been taken up by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Their statewide campaign, “Takecareoftexas.org”, strives to get Texans to commit to lifestyles that will improve our environment, as well as save money. Small things you can do immediately would be to keep lights off in empty rooms, use re-usable lunch containers, set your thermostat to 78 degrees in summer and 68 degrees in winter. Just doing that saves up to $150 a year.

Review maintenance needs on your home. Making sure your house is caulked and weatherstripped can save up to 10% on your energy bill. A leaky faucet, at one drop per second, will waste over 3,000 gallons of water in a year. Installing a water-efficient showerhead can save you $145 a year. As far as lawn care is concerned, mow in the evenings to help prevent smog. Lawnmowers emit eleven times more pollution than a new car.

In landscaping use natives, don’t remove grass clippings, and follow directions when using pesticides and fertilizers. Did you know that people apply more pounds of pesticides and fertilizers per acre to their yards than farmers do to their fields? Water one inch, once a week to conserve water. It also makes your lawn stronger and healthier. Put an empty tuna can under the sprinkler. When it’s full, you’re done. Don’t forget to water in the morning or evening, not midday.

Maintain your car, and you not only improve your gas mileage, but increase your checking account by $237 a year. Lastly, take a deep breath and drive calmly. Doing this can save you five percent in gas consumption. Keep in mind that for every five mph you drive over 60 mph, you will be paying an additional 20 cents per gallon of gas.

Like the owl said, “give a hoot don’t pollute”. And, as many a Texas celebrity has warned, “Don’t Mess With Texas” and please pick up your trash so that Indian Chief won’t cry at the end of the commercial. walton.shawn@gmail.com


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2011-04-21 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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