I love Earth Day. It's a reminder that we live on this incredible, life-sustaining, gift of a planet, and that we're only here for a short time. What trust we hold in our hands, to protect and preserve that planet for the folks who come after us.
I love Earth Day, because it reminds me to ignore the nay-sayers, the ones who call me a "hippy," or God forbid--a "liberal"--for caring so much. For wanting things to change. For reaching out to people and reminding them of this day, this promise made.
I love Earth Day, because it's a chance for me to give thanks for that gift, to remember the life I've lived outside and in the sun and rain, for the enjoyment I've taken in natural things.
I love Earth Day, because more than anything, it reminds me that we're all in it together. That though we may disagree about which God to worship or which car to drive or which candidate to support, we are connected by a gorgeous, fragile thread. That a woodsman in Canada feels the effects of my car exhaust in North Carolina, that in Africa a family may use the seeds of a Kansas wheat farmer. That we're not alone.
I love Earth Day because loving the planet is a mirror image of loving God, of seeking progress and peace.
But others have said it far better than I ever could, and their thoughts--irreverent, funny, sarcastic, hopeful--are below:
"Opie, you haven't finished your milk. We can't put it back in the cow, you know."
~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard."
- Gaylord Nelson, former governor of Wisconsin, founder of Earth Day
"Let the clean air blow the cobwebs from your body. Air is medicine."
- Lillian Russell (1862-1922), quoted in Reader's Digest, March 1922
"Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress."
~John Clapham, A Concise Economic History of Britain, 1957
"The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river."
"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment."
"Ironically, rural America has become viewed by a growing number of Americans as having a higher [quality of life] not because of what it has, but rather because of what it does not have!"
~Don A. Dillman, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January 1977
"Today's world is one in which the age-old risks of humankind - the drought, floods, communicable diseases - are less of a problem than ever before. They have been replaced by risks of humanity's own making - the unintended side-effects of beneficial technologies and the intended effects of the technologies of war. Society must hope that the world's ability to assess and manage risks will keep pace with its ability to create them."
~J. Clarence Davies, quoted in Conservation Foundation, State of the Environment: An Assessment at Mid-Decade, 1984
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
— Edmund Burke
"You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it. We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem."
~William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator, New York Times, 30 November 1988
"We are monumentally distracted by a pervasive technological culture that appears to have a life of its own, one that insists on our full attention, continually seducing us and pulling us away from the opportunity to experience directly the true meaning of our own lives."
— Al Gore
"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."
— John Muir
"Pollution should never be the price of prosperity."
— Al Gore, in a 2000 presidential-campaign speech
"Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites."
- William Ruckelshaus, first EPA Adminstrator, (1970-1973 and 1983-1985), Business Week, June 18, 1990.
"All nature wears one universal grin."
- Henry Fielding (1707-1754), Tom Thumb the Great, 1730.
Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, --
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, (1792-1822), "To Jane, The Invitation," c.1820
"He who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), Essays, Second Series, 1844
"The Wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit."
- Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), Today and All Its Yesterdays, 1958.