Editorial Archive: This is Earth Day – in 1970

  • Dinah Campi demonstrates against pollution in Miami, Fla., dressed in an American flag while participating in Earth Day activities on April 22, 1970. TOBY MASSEY

Published: 4/22/2020 7:30:10 AM

(The following editorial appeared in the Monitor on April 22, 1970.)

This is Earth Day – a nationwide observance of the quality of our surroundings. The observance takes only a glimpse. We look pretty shoddy.

Of course, it may not be as bad in New Hampshire as it is in some other places, but the quality of our environment in the Granite State dictates the style and the character of our lives. We are environment-oriented.

And yet our lakes, rivers and streams rapidly are getting mucked up with refuse, wastes and unwanted growth. And uncaring few are sulphurizing what is supposed to be our clean air that attracts visitors by the millions.

Our scenic highways are littered with discarded beer cans, cardboard lunch boxes, gum wrappers and tonic bottles. Some of our scenic vistas are blocked by corridors of billboards.

The evidence is accumulating that we are indulging ourselves off the face of the Earth. We seem to feel free to pollute our surroundings without a thought to the fact that our actions are multiplied by millions.

What we have to change is our attitude toward our environment. We rationalize that controls are for the other guy. We first have to learn to control ourselves, and the thoughtless actions that pollute this Earth, and then we must get angry at the “other guy” to make him do the same.

Our environmental crisis has come about because we have been undisciplined, unthinking and uncaring about the quality of our physical surroundings. Also – let’s face it – it’s only been the past year or two that we’ve begun to listen to the conservationists who have warned for more than a decade that these conditions would come about.

Thus if we’re going to make progress on cleaning up the mess we’ve created, every day will have to be “Earth Day.” If it’s a one-shot affair, we’ll continue to race backward.

This gigantic problem is twofold. We not only have to stop what we’re doing to our environment, we have to clean up the conditions we created.

The latter will take a long time, a lot of money, and even more patience. It will mean a drastic change in our priorities for government action, for only the government can conduct the cleanup.

But individual companies are going to have to change their priorities, too. They are going to have to invest in environmental quality even as they pay higher taxes to sweep away what man already has done.

Perhaps the most important aspect of this campaign – locally, nationally and worldwide – will be to maintain the crescendo of public concern. Those who want to continue to use nature’s bounty for private profit will have to be pressured into paying the price.

This is an entirely different concept on the use of natural resources than has prevailed in this nation throughout its history.

It is noteworthy that some large firms already are making public relations hay on programs to preserve the environment.

Perhaps they are ahead of the times. For while the talk of environmental control has reached new peaks, the companies that have budget allocations for this purpose are few and far between.

The time is rapidly approaching when this calculated neglect will be felt in decreased sales – even boycotts. The tempo of public concern is building to the point where stockholders are going to want to know what their officers are doing about it.

But the biggest chore for the advocates of “Earth Day” will be to move those champions of heel-dragging, members of the legislature. Only last week they chopped funds to correct and control water pollution. It is almost unbelievable.

If you want to do something positive on “Earth Day,” call your state representative and ask him what he’s doing.

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