Senator Gaylord Nelson’s vision for Earth Day was much more comprehensive than most people realize. It was, in fact, very closely aligned with Clearwater’s founder Pete Seeger, and with Dr. King, who had been assassinated two years before Earth Day 1970. His inclusion of compassion for others and the need for social justice presage the Environmental Justice movement, which coalesced a decade later and is now at the forefront of the Environmental movement in the U.S.
Sen. Nelson brilliantly connected all the dots and challenged us to create a world that works for everyone. The questions he asked – and answered – were: 1) can we do this? and, 2) are we willing? Forty-four years later we realize that it’s not just a matter of technology and resources. For example, we have ample wind, water and solar to power a Green Energy Economy, which would create jobs and mitigate climate change. However, in spite of the lofty goals espoused by our political leaders, strong corporate forces of Big Oil and Gas resist this much needed transition and pull powerful strings to prevent or delay its implementation – at the expense of creating a truly sustainable future for all. Many of us are very willing, but overcoming this perverted and costly self-interest is the challenge of today.