This weekend my granddaughter reminded me that it’s Earth Week, with Friday being Earth Day. She said it so nonchalantly as if the holiday has always existed but it caused me to pause and reflect for a moment on the time before Earth Day and how far we’ve come.
Almost 40 years ago the crew of Apollo 8 took a picture of earth as they orbited the moon in preparation for the first lunar landing mission. And for the first time, Earth was revealed as a blue jewel against the vastness of space and in contrast with the barren lunar surface. Our planet suddenly became not just fields, forests, oceans and mountains: It was a complete global entity. And the greatest change in our sense of the world since Columbus sailed for the Indies and didn’t fall off the edge of the watery void.
At the same time, works such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth (1968) by R. Buckminster Fuller brought the need for conservation efforts to greater public attention than ever before. President Nixon was persuaded to establish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which both consolidated several smaller agencies and strengthened the aspects of oversight and penalties for infractions.