By editorial board • 

Annual day to celebrate the planet we all inhabit

It has been 43 years since the inaugural Earth Day celebrations. Today, we are reminded every day that we live in a more sustainability-minded society than ever. But April 22 still is an annual day to reflect upon our personal activities and to celebrate the planet we inhabit. 

Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson became known as the principal founder of Earth Day after he proposed a national teach-in day focusing on the environment. Colleagues helped mobilize a volunteer force, and the first Earth Day was celebrated by 20 million Americans in streets, parks and auditoriums across the country. 

Today, Earth Day is celebrated around the world by many more millions; however, several countries celebrate on a different date. 

While the environmental movement had been growing for years, the first Earth Day had nearly immediate impacts for the federal government. Within a year, the Environmental Protection Agency was founded and Congress had passed the Clean Air Act, followed by approval of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Clean Water Act of 1974. 

That movement affects the products we buy and the work we do.

Tuesday, the News-Register will distribute its latest quarterly Green Living section, one of our best-read publications. And in day-to-day news and commentary, we have frequent reminders that society has become more environmentally conscious in response to challenges of a global nature.

Last week, columnist Karl Klooster reported this warning from Conservation International: “The current areas suitable for wine grape growing will shrink by more than 70 percent in certain parts of the world by mid-century.” Therein lies the suggestion that our region could lose its standing for growing some of the world’s best pinot grapes. 

Another recent news item involves the testing of curbside glass recycling by Waste Management. It takes investment to produce convenience for recycling glass, but considering it takes millions of years for glass to decompose in landfills, it’s not a bad investment to make.

In any debate about climate change and global warming, it’s important to remember that we need to continue advocating for a greener society. We know greenhouse gases damage the environment; we learn more each day about practices that reduce carbon footprints and support cleaner water, better lands and happier co-inhabitants of Earth. 

McMinnville is celebrating Earth Day on Saturday. Locals will trek to the Granary District for the annual La Casa Verde festival promoting green building and living; Currents Gallery on Third Street will exhibit recycled art, its fourth annual such show, during the Art & Wine Walk; Earth Day activities at Miller Woods will include nature hikes, free educational presentations and a native plant sale.

If you don’t actively celebrate Earth Day this year, at least take a moment to consider why this day was created, how far it has come and how far this movement still has to go. As Henry David Thoreau asked:

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

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