Thursday, April 22, 2010

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

Most of you were not alive 40 years ago. I wasn't but Mom was. She doesn't remember the first Earth Day because it wasn't really a big deal back then, at least not in Chicago. Her first memory of Earth Day was sometime in the 80s. Celebrations started happening, people starting becoming aware of the issues, and a buzz was starting about this one special spring day.

Earth Day grew in scope in the 90s but then really took off once we entered the new millenium. Parties were organized, groups formed, and people really started getting involved. Now, all the events surrounding this one special day have spilled over and turned into Earth Week. Ahh, a whole week to celebrate the wonder that is Mother Earth.

Mom's awareness of her surroundings began with her first sea turtle trip and were then heightened during her first trip to Costa Rica. It should come as no surprise to anyone that it was the presence of birds, like this boat billed heron she saw while motoring down the Tortuguero River, that raised her awareness and made her change the path she had been on. She's never looked back, never questioned her decision to give up her career and start anew.

Many biologists credit Aldo Leopold with their decision to study and teach biology. It's like a light bulb went on over their heads after reading A Sand County Almanac. So poetic yet so simple, this book is like pure prose that flows from the heart of Leopold. You feel like you are with him as he lives with the changing of the seasons, the seasons that make living in the midwest a joy for most, a struggle for some. He not only appreciated that with which he could see, but also that with which he imagined. There's truly something magical in this book that will move you and inspire you to want to get outside today and every day as you begin to understand and feel the beauty of your surroundings.

Mom can't help but think about Rachel Carson today and most days for that matter. The world would be a different place today had Carson not changed the path of destruction the U.S. was on with their use of the pesticide DDT. It was Carson that proved the evils of this chemical and documented its effects on the natural world in her book Silent Spring. Every time you see a bald eagle, please thank Carson for saving them because had DDT continued to be used, they would have long gone extinct.

Rachel Carson died before Mom was born and before Carson herself would realize the fruits of her labor. In death, she was celebrated as having saved the natural world as we know and it's for this that she is credited with starting the modern environmental movement.

It's no coincidence that Earth Day is celebrated in the spring because the renewal of Mother Earth in all her glory, begins anew each spring just like it has since the beginning of time. It was Carson who told us "It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the comtemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility." Oh to be humbled by what we often take for granted. Her words echo through our minds as we are reminded that things are changing, for good and bad, but that we need only step outside because "Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." Such comforting words from one of the wisest women of the 20th century.

The first chapter of Silent Spring
is "A Fable for Tomorrow". Mom sometimes wonder if Carson's tomorrow is today or perhaps a few years down the road. The fable was set in a town in the heart of America, not unlike the town we live in today.

Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change...

There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example - where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, troubled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.

This town does not actually exist, but it might easily have a thousand counterparts in America or elsewhere in the world. I know of no community that has experienced all the misfortunes I describe. Yet every one of these disasters has actually happened somewhere, and many real communities have already suffered a substantial number of them. A grim specter has crept upon us almost unnoticed, and this imagined tragedy may easily become a stark reality we all shall know.

Mom thinks of this every morning when she hears the birds as they wake up from their roost. These same birds, the ancestors of those Carson heard, are still here for now. But for how long? Carson dedicated Silent Spring to Albert Schweitzer who said "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." Silent Spring was published in 1962, a few years before Schweitzer's death in 1965, but these words, a grim predictor of our future perhaps, remain a chilling reminder of a disaster we can avoid.

It is with Carson and Leopolds' legacies in mind that I ask you to go outside today, look around, listen carefully, smell the fresh air and remember that the times they are a changing. We have the power to make changes every single day. Every decision we make affects the planet. By recognizing what we have to live for, we can decide whether or not we value what we have and what we want to preserve. It's like Mom was taught long ago - you can't expect someone to want to save something if they don't love it. Make a connection with the natural world and express your joy as you live in it. Tread a little lighter each day and take time to appreciate what Mother Earth has to offer, for it's the only home we have.

18 comments:

Sequoia & Petunia said...

Happy Earth Day Stubby! We love all you do with the blog and awareness!

agent99 said...

What....you weren't talking about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club?

Does that show my age?

Have a very green day, and thanks for inspiring Puglet to make his video to spread the word!


Gen & Foo
an their old momma

Oakley and Swisher said...

Happy Earth day, Stub Man. You help inspire us to live greener!

Lots of Licks--
Oak and Swish

Those Elgin Pugs said...

wHaT uP sTubbY!

hapPY earthY daY tO yoU ohhhhhhhh... laaaaaaaa...rooooooooorrrrrrrr.....
AH. I feel better! I hads to sing to my mans. So dude, you looks like you're ready to plants yourself into the ground! Mommy wasn't alives yet, but she didn't thinks your Momma was either! Shame on you for giving her age aways dude! (Just Kidding) I'm sure she didn't mind. My Mommy always said that if she was alive in the 60's she would so be a tree hugging hippy (whatever that means). Josie and I are celebrating Earthling Day, but since Izzy is from well, Jupiters and alls... she's barking outs the window. My Mommy has a good idea for your Mommy, but she will e-mails it to her. Anyways, Great job little dude on helping Puglet with his video. Have ya heard- his Momma gots an interview on the Tellie? Will they remember the little peeps? He will for sure be able to take cares of Jenny's pups.
Enjoy your Day! Oh and you deserve some Popeyes 4 sure!
Take care brother,
Anakin

Yoda & Brutus said...

Happy Earth Day Stubby!!

Pugs & Kisses,

Yoda & Brutus

Tweedles -- that's me said...

Happy Earth Day Stubby
Your words were said so wonderfully- everything you said just plain made sense.
And you are so right.
I thank you for this awsome post-I seem to be speechless right now.
love
tweedles

Stubby said...

Hi Sequoia & Tuni! I'm so glad you love my blog. I'm raising awareness one pug at a time!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Gen & the Foo! I knew someone would throw in a Sgt. Pepper's reference. I almost used it in my post but then decided to leave it out and see who would comment about it. Your momma isn't old just musical.

Thanks for the kind words. The video is a reminder to all of us that going green is easy to do.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Oakley & Swisher! I'm so happy to be such an inspiration to you guys. And I'm so happy you are back to bloggin - yeah!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Anakin! Thanks for the song. I wasn't trying to plant myself in the ground in that pic, just chilling in the yard, being green and all.

Mom is cool with me giving away her age. She doesn't really have a problem with it because it's just a number.

I can't wait to hear what the idea is. I'll be checking my email and I'll respond as quick as I can.

The video collaboration was so much fun. Puglet is sure going to save the planet and recycled dogs. I heard his mom was on tv, but I haven't seen the interview yet. If you see it, please forward the link to me.

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Yoda & Brutus! I hope you had a great Earth Day and are keeping it green. Great job helping your parents with recycling. They owe you a big treat!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Tweedles! I'm so glad you loved this post. You and I both care so much about Mother Earth and we are often speechless by her beauty. We will tread a little lighter as we walk through your forest looking for ways to help the planet.

Stubby xoxo

Melissa and Emmitt said...

happy happy earth day stubby!
what a beautiful, perfect post!
xoxoox
m & e

Winston (smilingpug) said...

Wow did not realize Earth Day is that old. I also remember it sometime around the mid 80's. Happy Earth day. You may want to keep your eye on Winston's blog this weekend. He has a special post coming that is just for you Stubby!

Stubby said...

Hi Melissa & Emmitt! I hope you guys had a great Earth Day. I spent the day celebrating but you'll have to wait to read what I did when I post it. Trust me, it was pawsome!

Stubby xoxo

Stubby said...

Hi Winston! That's okay if you didn't realize it was Earth Day yesterday. You can celebrate it the rest of the year by going green like Puglet!

I can't believe you're doing a special post this weekend just for me. Ohhh, I can't wait to see it!

Stubby xoxo

Hank said...

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."

I love that, Stubby.

Thanks for sharing history and your knowledge with us. We try to not take anything on this earth for granted.

Hugs -

Sarah, Hank and Molly

Stubby said...

Hi Sarah, Hank & Molly! That's one of my favorite quotes too. Rachel Carson was so wise and so inspirational. Mom gets goosebumps when she reads her books cause it's like Carson was looking into the future for us, a future she would not see.

Thanks for not taking all that Mother Earth has to offer for granted. She needs us to work with her, not against her, now more than ever.

Stubby xoxo