American Myth?

by Sandy Lulay

April 24, 2001

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The First Earth Day

On April 21, 1970, about 20 million people across the country took part in the first national Earth Day. In 1969 Senator Gaylord Nelson, then the leading environmentalist in the U.S. Congress, created the day for campus teach-ins to help educate young people about the environment.

The result of this nationwide focus was: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The EPA soon became, in terms of both staff and budget, the country's largest governmental regulatory body. The nation had adopted environmentalism as one of its key issues.

Earth Day 2001

The news headlines that we thought we'd never see!

"The Ozone Hole over the Antarctic is the Deepest on Record"
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Geneva, April 19, 2001

"Ozone-Eating Clouds Form in Cold Polar Rings"
NASA'S Ames Research Center, California, April 19, 2001

"Rising Waters: Global Warming and the Fate of the Pacific Islands"
PBS, April 22, 2001

"Ethiopia - 3,000 Tons of Obsolete Pesticides Leak at 1,000 Storage Sites"
Environmental Defense Home Page, April 21, 2001

"Haze Over Asia Poses Health Threat"
Earth Times, April 10, 2001

"Asthma Has DOUBLED in the Last Ten Years"
Dr. Bruce Miller, Health Quest, Spring Issue 1999

"Trees Need Calcium, Too... Soil Calcium Depletion Linked to Acid Rain and Forest Growth in the Eastern United States"
U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey Release, March 29, 1999

"Acid Rain Damage in U.S. Midwest Causes Ten Billion Dollars in 1987"
Environmental Defense Home Page Article on Acid Rain, April 2001

"Ozone Hole Larger than Previous Record in 1998"
WMO, Geneva, April 2001

Back to the Future

April 22, 2000. Thirty years later Senator Nelson comments: "Earth Day achieved what I had hoped for. The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda. It was a gamble, but it worked."

The Trouble with Earth Day

It has not worked. New chemicals are still being created every twenty minutes with no toxicity information available. Conservation is more conversation than action. Large groups pour money into projects like saving whales, dolphins, spotted owls and other endangered species, trying to close the barn door after the horse has been missing for years.

What is missing from the picture is us. Earth, animals and man are connected intimately. The whale is us, the tree is us. If a chemical is put out there, it will end up in us. If we substitute "health" for environment, "environmentally safer" becomes "safer for my health." "Save the seals" becomes "save the humans." When the concept of "not in my backyard" becomes "not in my body" the situation comes home, becomes more urgent. We are the ultimate toxic waste dumps.

Environmental illnesses are on the rise in all living things. Allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, lupus, infertility, ADHD, occupational diseases, anxiety attacks, depression, mental illness, headaches, candida, depressed immune systems, etc.

We are the ultimate endangered species!

Who is Responsible?

The answer is multi-dimensional.

Gary Cohen, writing "It's Too Easy Being Green," for the Summer 1990 Toxic Times, newsletter of the National Toxics Coalition:

"Earth Day offered little political analysis, no vision of how corporate America has manipulated consumer demand, how corporate interests have gradually shaped our addiction to products containing a wide array of environmentally destructive chemicals, how American companies went from producing one billion pounds of toxic chemicals in 1940 to over 220 billion in 1987. Earth Day failed to educate people about the limited range of choices consumers really have, and how industry, especially the automotive, petrochemical, and paper industries, bear more responsibility than the rest of us. Earth Day organizers, in their efforts to be inclusive and broad-based, missed a momentous opportunity to educate millions of people about the real causes of the environmental crisis: the chemical invasion of our society and the lack of democratic decision making in the production and disposal of goods."

Blaming the system gets us close. Still no one seems to be aware of what any of this has done to human health. And no one seems to be aware of what lies behind the system. Human character: greed and misplaced priorities. Misplaced priorities we might be able to do something about but greed? Can it ever be controlled, much less eradicated from the human psyche?

Around the World

Health damage continues to humans, the animals, and the earth.

Earth Day 2100

Global temperatures have increased over six degrees and sea levels have risen over three feet. The Pacific Islands and low-lying nations no longer exist. The spread of tropical diseases to more temperate parts of the world has dramatically decreased world population. The depletion of nutrients from Earth's soil has resulted in animal and human sterility and all existing male forms of life suffer from impotence.

The few humans and animals that have survived the last century maintain existence by living in biosphere bubbles. All species of life, including plants, animal and man can only be reproduced by cloning.

These inhabitants of Earth 2100 have never seen a sunset or a full moon, a waterfall or a green forest. They will never walk on a beach or climb a mountain trail. They will never taste the sweetness of a wild berry or smell the scent of pines. They will never swim or fish in a blue lake or play in a babbling brook. Nature and life as their great grandparents experienced no longer exist.


       Sandy Lulay studied Environmental Nutrition with Dr. Annemaria Ballin at the American Academy of Nutrition and has a degree in comprehensive nutrition. She's been working on environmental issues for many years. Lulay is also an accomplished poet. Her poetry regularly enlightens the pages of Swans.


         Please, DO NOT steal, scavenge or repost this work on the Web without the expressed written authorization of Swans, which will seek permission from the author. This material is copyrighted, © Sandy Lulay 2001. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Related Internal Links

Biocracy - by Michael W. Stowell (Posted in February 2001, this piece explores the concept of biocracy, a form of governance in which all life has participation.)

The Imperial Conservation Crusade - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in February 2001, this essay submits that after 30 years Environmentalism is a resounding failure as it has not addressed the root causes of our predicament.)

The Resource Base - by Milo Clark (Posted in February 2001, this piece shows that the histories of humankind on this planet are histories of resource conversion.)

Letter to my Unborn Child - by Alma Hromic (Posted in February 2001, this moving essay documents the destruction of the earth.)

Conservation Is Not Enough - Compiled by Michael G. Hanauer (Posted in February 2001, this is an excerpt of a compilation of extensive statistical information about population and the environment.)

A Reformist View: Business as if the Earth Matters - by Joe Kresse (Posted in February 2001, this piece examplifies the belief that business can be a force of positive change for the sake of the environment and the ecosystem.)

Story of a Chainsaw War, From Menlo Park to Luna - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in December 2000, this story deals with tree cutters in a neighborhood of the California Bay Area and other unpleasant circumstances.)

Timber, Behavior, Change: An Uneasy Trio - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in December 2000, this story is a follow-up on the preceding article and shows that change and enmity notwithstanding the old-growth redwood giants will keep being harvested as long as we all use the wood and demand it.)

Mesmerized by the Weapons Mystique - by Mac Lawrence (Posted in July 1997, this piece demonstrates once more that we are not learning from the past. At a time when we are again increasing the U.S. military budget, this piece documents how immensely bloated this budget already is.)

The Wilderness Into Which Crying is Silent - by Milo Clark (Posted in September 1996, this piece shows the hypocrisy of conservation efforts through "responsible tourism.")

Do as I say... - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in May 1996, this piece shows with some humor the insanities and contradictions of our consumerist policies.)

It's Spring: Time to Drive - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in May 1997, this short piece shows the inanity of producing ever more vehicles.)

News Watch - by Gilles d'Aymery (Posted in December 1997, the first paragraph provides a few notes about Global Warming, in particular emission of carbon-dioxide by various countries.)

Useful Guide to Understanding Where All That Stuff Comes From - by Donella Meadows (Posted in April 1998, this book review shows the behind-the-scene of consumption. For instance, you'll learn that the manufacturing of your 55-pound computer generated 139 pounds of waste and used 7,300 gallons of water and 2,300 kilowatt-hours of energy.)

Adam Smith is on Our Side - By Milo Clark (Posted in May 1996, this piece on Adam Smith is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how incorrectly Smith is depicted in the main media.)



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Published April 24, 2001
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