Before the Clean Air Act (1970), the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970), and the Clean Water Act (1972), there were few regulations for industrial pollution and very limited enforcement. As a result, it was not uncommon for polluted rivers to catch fire.
For example, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, was continually polluted from the 1880s through the early 1970s. It suffered a major fire in 1952. Finally, an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California pushed Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin to create the first Earth Day in 1970.
Earth Day 1971 at UNCW was a full day of special events, including programs on the impact of pollution on Southeast North Carolina. Over the years, Seahawks have raised Earth Day awareness with films, guest speakers from industry and science, environmental education, and a “filthy” photo contest.
Fifty-two years after the EPA opened, industrial pollution remains a problem for the country, compounded by our growing climate crisis. Earth Day empowers everyone to contribute to a cleaner environment. What small steps can we take to benefit our communities? For example, as consumers, we could stop throwing trash outside car windows. Our apartment complexes could provide proper outdoor trash and recycling containers for residents. Local business can discourage waste, help the bottom line, and promote our shared environment.
What action steps should we take for our planet and our people? Let us know how to end the contamination of America!