Earth Day will be celebrated on April 22. I am old enough to remember the first Earth Day, in 1970, the year I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. It was also the year the Environmental Protection Agency was established. These actions would not have been taken without the voices of people like Rachel Carlson who, drawing from their experiences and foundational scientific research, told us how human activities were damaging the environment and threatening the existence of innumerable species. Just as now with climate change, there were some who said there was no emergency, that those who spoke up were alarmists. My wife and I moved to the Quad Cities in the late 90's. People we talked to, who had always lived there, talked about a time in the 50's and 60's when they saw few Bald Eagles, and the ones they saw were all adults. Then the country woke up and banned DDT. Now, in the winter when the Mississippi river freezes up, eagles by the hundreds, adult and immature, flock to locks and dams to feed on fish below the dams, where the water remains ice-free. In the spring, flocks of White Pelicans migrate along the river as they head north to breeding grounds. A Peregrine Falcon pair nests on one of the buildings in Davenport. We listened to science in the 70's and avoided disaster. Now, new voices are calling for action to reduce our carbon footprint before climate warming becomes catastrophic. Again, we need to listen.
Brent Langley is an internationally known artist who enjoys sharing his views on art and nature.