I remember the first Earth Day. It began the year I graduated from high school.
Earth Day was created by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, inspiring Americans to pay more attention to the environment in which we live. At that time, there was not yet an Environmental Protection Agency, or Clean Air Act or Clean Water Act. There were no regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment. That kind of thinking was only just beginning.
Now, over fifty years later, the environmental problems we face have only increased. Earth Day has gone from its original feel – granolas and rainbows and balloons come to mind (remember, I was there!) – to a more somber realization of the challenges that confront us. We’ve gone in 50 years from assuming we could handle the problem of environmental degradation, to a time when too many now fear we won’t.
It’s painful to consider that in the year 2000, we could have had (and if Florida had been allowed to count its votes, we would have had) a world class environmentalist elected president of the United States. With Al Gore as president, we would have embarked on an era known for the genius of environmental repair rather than the criminality and tragedy of the Iraq War.
Much to grieve there. But that was then, and this is now.
At this point, there is no more time to waste. There is no more grace period left for our reckless species. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its latest report released last week, the “window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future” is “rapidly closing.” No wonder so many young people today are wary of bringing children into the world.
That is not normal. We must not tarry. We must act.
As President, I will cancel the Willow Project oil drilling project on the North Slopes of Alaska on my first day in office. This is time to be ramping down, not ramping up, fossil fuel extraction.
I will mobilize America for an emergency level just transition from a dirty to a clean economy. If an America president could declare we would send a man to the moon within ten years, an American president can declare we will save the earth within the same amount of time.
It is not hyperbole to say our lives are on the line. We must not tolerate, and we must not re-elect, leaders who give lip service to climate change as an “existential crisis” yet still give more oil drilling permits than even had their predecessor. Our message to Washington in this next election must be a loud, passionate and committed: We have no more time. We are changing direction and we’re changing it now.
Join me live if you are in New York City – otherwise on livestream – on Earth Day, April 22, along with my special guest Steven Donziger. We will discuss the state of what is, and the state of what will be, as we commit ourselves to addressing the climate crisis and saving the world for our children’s children.
Our bond with the earth is sacred, yet that bond has been violated in the most irresponsible ways. On April 22nd we will discuss the way forward, as Americans and as a species, as we seek to repair a bond so cruelly broken.
I hope you’ll join us.