Preserve and protect

Preserve and Protect

Parkersburg News and Sentinel – April 22, 2018

Today is Earth Day. Back in 1968, when Apollo astronauts were on a mission to identify landing sites on the moon, one of them accidentally turned back to earth and took the first picture of the earth from space. “Earth Rise” is an iconic image we all know. This one picture of our vibrant, beautiful, and fragile planet against the black void of space electrified people around the world. Within 18 months, the first Earth Day was celebrated worldwide. In the United States the Environmental Protection Agency was founded, and the Clean Air and Clean Water acts were passed with overwhelming majorities in Congress. This happened during Richard Nixon’s administration almost 50 years ago.

Before 1970 there were no rules or laws regulating pollution of our water and air. Both corporations and citizens treated our planet as an open sewer with no regard for the fact that we all share the earth’s water and atmosphere. That picture of earth from space said more than any words that we are all connected by our existence on this breathtaking planet, and that pollution in any part of the world affects my ability to have a healthy life as well as future generations.

While the actions to legislate consequences for polluters have cleaned up the environment somewhat, in the MOV we still live on the most polluted river in the United States. The burning of fossil fuels over the past 150 years has put so much greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that global systems are out of balance with what many species require to survive. Oceans have become more acid as the water absorbs the excess CO2. Shrinking ice caps and rising sea levels are visible from space. The Paris Climate Accords are the first ever global action plan that is at a scale that begins to address the scope of the problems we face, but not on a timeline to prevent the extinction of the majority of species alive today.

My grandfathers smoked tobacco back when we didn’t understand the effects of smoking on health. They were also coal miners and didn’t know the dangers that burning fossil fuels represented to our future. As we learn new facts, we know we must and can change our behavior to ensure our futures. For every one of us, it’s personal. On this Earth Day ask yourself what you are doing to preserve that fragile blue marble spinning through space for your children, for your grandchildren, and for the life that many believe God placed in our hands to nurture and protect.

Jean Ambrose