For many environmentalists, there are few things that provoke a deeper sense of cynicism than Earth Day itself. During the modern environmental movement’s “formative years” – basically the 1970's – what was unquestionable was that Earth Day was revolutionary. Perhaps 80 parts "protest" and 20 parts "celebration." Above all, Earth Day held in contempt the machinations of industrial civilization as it stuffed denuded, dismembered, and destroyed parts of the living Earth into its maw.
There was a deep, ethical core understanding that drove Earth Day: it is wrong to bludgeon, beat, eviscerate, and burn the natural world to suit the vagaries of human desire. In the "developed" countries, where mass consumerism mesmerizes already over-satiated "consumers" into purchasing ever-more throw-away toys, trinkets, and travesties, these "desires" are so grotesque as to be almost unspeakable. This brutal exploitation of the Earth continues moment to moment, day after day, year after year. Worse, it is scaling higher continuously, as the human-load on the Earth ratchets up every single day. Taken on the whole, it can accurately be described as a senseless, if not totally idiotic, tragedy.
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Yet, we cannot in good conscience forfeit the whole idea of Earth Day: after all, all the protests and teach-ins and celebrations were, and to some extent still are, based on love. Love for the Earth, love for the potential of human beings and our relationship with the Earth. Love of life. And experience tells us there is an inexhaustible determination to be found in love.
As you pick through the many feeble, sometimes insulting set of stories circulating in the popular press about this Earth Day – please try to tack back towards the revolutionary love that is at the heart of your concerns. Love for this mysterious, but reasonably knowable Earth. Be proud to carry a sense of reverence for this jewel of a planet; reverence for non-human species; and, some sense of reverence for your own self and how you choose to conduct yourself. Population Media Center urges you to keep that respect and love firmly in your heart throughout all your worldly decisions and behaviors. After all, this moment – your moment – is the only chance the Earth has.