The wealth of a nation is in its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity–that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.
Earth Day is a memorable day for me. The first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970, which happened to be exactly one month before I graduated from high school. In the self-centered way of my adolescence, I probably would not have been particularly aware of the first Earth Day if it had not been founded by Wisconsin U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.
Growing up on a Wisconsin farm, our whole family was tied to the earth. Conservation practices such as strip farming, contour farming and crop rotation had long been practices of those who worked the soil. In a sense we were isolated from what was happening on the larger stage: Vietnam war protests, the hippie free-love (and free-drugs) movement and other things that marked the 60’s and 70’s. We were well aware and deeply touched by the American tragedies of a few years earlier in the deaths of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
With this backdrop, Earth Day was born. The first observance harnessed the energies of the protests of the time towards environmental concerns. That first day is sometimes thought of as the start of the modern environmental movement. The day is now celebrated around the world. However, we should not honor the environment only one day a year. It should be a lifestyle decision.