Screw Earth Day! Thoughts on Grist and Earth Day Critics

Screw Earth Day! Thoughts on Grist and Earth Day Critics

Cambria Bold
Apr 21, 2009

Grist has never been Earth Day's #1 supporter, to put it lightly. It seems sort of counter-intuitive, given that Grist is serious about environmental news and issues — seriously dry and a bit sardonic, but serious nonetheless. A "beacon in the smog," as they like to put it. So, maybe it's not too surprising that they're a little less than enthused about Earth Day because, really, "It's not about a single day, dude, it's about living green every day."

We can certainly agree with that, but then again, we don't live in an ideal world. Here's what we think about it...

Yes, Earth Day won't change everything, and yes, living green on just one single day of the year is not enough. But it's something. It's an awareness, an acknowledgment that the Earth and how we treat it deserves some attention. Ideally every person would be environmentally-conscious every day of the year. But most people, unfortunately, don't live like that and even for those of us that try, we need reminders. A fresh start. "Yes, Earth Day. I can and will do better."

Bill Christofferson, the author of a biography on Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, counters critics of Earth Day who say it's become too watered down and institutionalized — another example of greenwashing — by showing that, in effect, much of Earth Day's success is derived from the fact that it has been institutionalized. Since its first observance in 1970, it's taken root and flourished in elementary schools and universities, cultivating an "environmental ethic" in millions of young people. It may not be what hard core activists had in mind, but as long as the public is still paying attention to green issues at all, it should be viewed as an opportunity.

Gaylord Nelson, who showed up for work every morning until he was 89, always said: "Our work's not finished. There's a lot more to be done." So if Earth Day manages to inspire someone to do something helpful to the Earth, anything at all — pick up one piece of trash, recycle a few bottles — in our opinion, that's better than doing nothing.

What do you think?

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