Respecting Mother Earth . . . .

On April 22nd, 1970, the first Earth Day is celebrated in the United States and points around the globe. Now an annual event observed every April 22 worldwide, at its 50th Anniversary last year, events were again held to demonstrate support for environmental protection in 193 countries.

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by US Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his work.

While Earth Day was initially focused on the US, the Earth Day Network organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries.This signing fully ratified a key requirement for the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Turning directly to degradation of the animal kingdom, species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate; as many as 30 to 50 percent of the planet’s species may be extinct by 2050, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. As for plants, as of September 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists 116 extinct species and 132 possibly extinct species. Based on the best available estimates, scientists say that 21 percent of all plant species, or one in every five plant species, is likely threatened with extinction.

Turning to literal devastation of the planet’s surface and features, miles of polar ice are disintegrating into the seas per year, and NASA assesses that the West Antarctic ice shelf may collapse at any time. Climate change also ravages our earth in the form of: intense winter storms; destructive wildfires; record hurricanes; deadly heatwaves and drought; torrential rains and flooding; the spectacle of Metro-Detroiters waking up to snow-covered yards on April 21, 2021.

Notwithstanding the real-life disaster movie(s) above, Former President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords 14 months after they were signed. On Earth Day 2021, President Joe Biden announced a committment to slash US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 as part of the same Paris climate agreement.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

What say you, the people?