On April 17th, 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught fire, making plain what effect 150 years of industrial degradation was having on the American landscape. A heartland river, vital to the magnificent Great Lakes ecosystem, had been polluted to the point of combustion.
The flaming Cuyahoga was not a stand-alone event. By 1969, many of America’s—and the world’s—waterways were suffering the effects of industrialization and neglectful public policy. The air and land were also under attack.
A growing sense of ecological awareness, fed by the visual evidence of a deteriorating environment and fanned by dramatic events like the fiery Cuyahoga and the Santa Barbara oil spill (also in 1969), finally burst into flame on April 22, 1970, the first Earth day.
A Day Devoted to Healing
More than 20 million citizens worldwide, reacting to Santa Barbara, Cuyahoga, and other events, joined in protests, teach-ins, and community activism as the earth, finally, had a day devoted to its healing.
Lawmakers felt the heat of this public passion and reacted by creating the Environmental Protection Agency and by authoring and implementing the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other seminal pieces of environmental legislation.
It is worth remembering—and celebrating—these and other achievements as we head into the 49th Earth Day.
The Cuyahoga River has long since stopped flaming and in 2019, fifty years after the height of its degradation, the Cuyahoga was named River of the Year by a leading waterways conservation group. Its rehabilitation is a testament to the passion and activism first harnessed and directed on April 22nd, 1970.
Much has been achieved since that first Earth Day, but the planet and its waterways are still threatened.
Protect Our Species
This year’s Earth Day theme is Protect Our Species, an acknowledgment of the dangers faced by many species around the globe and a call to help heal these populations. Sharks, whales, sea turtles, and coral reefs are identified as some of the species most under fire.
You don’t have to be a scientist, researcher or forester to contribute to a better environment. It won’t take massive or heroic effort. Often, it’s small actions, undertaken regularly, for a sustained period, that have the greatest impact. The Earth Day Network promotes ‘a billion acts of green’, offering dozens of ways for everyone to make regular, small efforts, committing to earth-friendly acts, reducing their carbon footprint, conserving energy, and educating themselves and others.
At PME, Every Day is Earth Day
PME shares the passionate concerns of Earth Days past and present. As a company, we are devoted to – and exist for – the health and preservation of rivers, lakes and oceans. We innovate exceptionally accurate, long-lasting and uniquely designed freshwater and oceanographic research devices for organizations around the world. PME offers a variety of products to assist scientific research, including products used to research the CO2 levels endangering coral reefs.