Earth Day 2019 right around the corner

Monday will mark the 39th celebration of Earth Day, and the date may be more important to recognize now than ever before.

The website www.epa. gov states that on the first Earth Day in 1970, 22 million Americans celebrated clean air, land and water. Back then, there was no Environmental Protection Agency, no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. There were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect the planet’s environment. As a result, Sen. Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force this issue onto the national agenda.

Apparently, the gathering of millions of Americans on Earth Day got the message across, as the EPA was authorized by Congress in December 1970.

In “The Spirit of the First Earth Day,” Jack Lewis wrote: “In the waning months of the 1960s, environmental problems were proliferating like a many-headed hydra, a monster no one could understand let alone tame or slay. Rampant air pollution was linked to disease and death in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere as noxious fumes, spewed out by cars and factories, made city life less and less bearable. In the wake of Rachel Carson’s 1962 best-seller, “Silent Spring,” there was widespread concern over large-scale use of pesticides, often near densely populated communities.

In addition, huge fish kills were reported on the Great Lakes, and the media carried the news that Lake Erie, one of America’s largest bodies of fresh water, was in its death throes.”

The creation of the EPA has certainly contributed to the reversal of the environmental issues that the country faced in the 1960s. But today, the world faces an even greater issue with climate change.

The website www.nasa. gov has a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries. The IPCC forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

Taken as a whole,” the IPCC states, “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”

As a result of these changes, the IPCC says there will be more heat waves, resulting in more droughts; changes in precipitation patterns may result in the types of flash flooding we witnessed in Houghton last summer; hurricanes will become both more frequent and more intense; and the Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice-free before the middle of this century.

In other words, as these changes increase and become more drastic, there is no location on the map that won’t be affected in some way. Therefore, the responsibility lies on all of us to do our part and alter the course of climate change.