Forty-nine years ago today, nearly 20 million people in cities across the U.S. poured out into the streets to demand that Congress put the issue of environmental protection on the national political agenda.
It was April 22, 1970, the first designated “Earth Day.”
Today, on Earth Day 2019, I’m writing to ask you, and the millions of consumers in our networks, to let Congress know that you want them to act more decisively, more radically, more urgently— and on a massive scale—to protect and restore Earth’s precious resources.
Before Earth Day 1970, we had no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). No Clean Water Act. No Clean Air Act.
But because ordinary citizens mobilized on a massive scale, lawmakers started to take seriously their obligation to protect our common natural resources from polluters and plunderers.
Congress set up the EPA. Laws were written. Progress was made.
Over time, corporate lobbyists have managed to weaken those laws. Today, we have an administration that has unabashedly made it its mission to undermine, roll back and wipe out that progress.
In the meantime, the list of environmental crises we face has grown in both scope and scale.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that unless we cut global carbon pollution in half by 2030, and reduce it to net zero by 2050, we have no hope of avoiding the harshest consequences of climate change—drowned coastal cities, worsening storms and the virtual end of coral reefs.
The United Nations warns that unless we “thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years,” one that addresses a staggering loss of biodiversity, we could be the first species to document our own extinction.
Today, 49 years after the first Earth Day, we’ve run out of time to settle for small fixes to massive problems.
I believe our best hope to address today’s interconnected problems of air and water pollution, a toxic food system, loss of biodiversity and soil health, deteriorating public health, growing poverty, decaying communities, global warming—and the corporate and political corruption driving all of these crises—is to demand a Green New Deal.
This Earth Day, let’s think big. Let’s demand a Green New Deal for Mother Earth.