Pastoral Musings: Earth Day 2013 

April 15, 2013

April 22, 1970.  Conceived by Senator Gaylord Nelson and powered by student activism under the leadership of Denis Hayes (age 25), the first Earth Day set out to raise environmental consciousness and create the political will to protect our planet.  And what a success it was!  Within a few short years, it helped spur Congress to create the Environmental Protection Agency and pass our nation’s bedrock environmental laws - the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts .

In 1990, environmental leaders called on Denis Hayes to do it again, and this time the event went global.  The energy so mobilized helped spur the United Nations to convene the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in which essentially all nations agreed to a pair of visionary and legally binding treaties designed to protect biological diversity and prevent global warming.  Regarding the latter, it is interesting to note that the “Framework Convention on Climate Change” was signed by Republican President George H. W. Bush and ratified in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 95-0.

In recent decades, Earth Day has become an annual event – and for good reason.  The efforts listed above, while valuable, have proven inadequate.  The global warming treaty, for example, has failed to stop the rise in climate-disrupting greenhouse gases that stems from our addiction to fossil fuels. More generally, we continue a relentless pursuit of economic growth even while evidence pours in that this growth is rapidly exhausting our planet’s ability to support life.

So perhaps there is still a need for some “consciousness-raising” in 2013. What if we really believed that the Earth is sacred?  And that we are part of it?  And that our collective actions have the power to destroy it? 

Would we panic… or would we awaken? 

-- Tad Anderson 

P.S. Contact me ( if you would consider joining the 60,000+ Americans who have pledged to engage in civil disobedience should President Obama approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Topics: Church Life, Ecojustice



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