Hope #17 Clean Air

“Nothing but blue skies from now on!”, the song says. The first Earth Week really shook up President Richard Nixon. I was 14. I headed it up in my junior high. We actually made the evening news on our local, CBS affiliate for one of our actions. 70 of us, without any adult supervision, rode our bicycles with environmental slogans on signs on them, from Carl Sandberg Jr. High in Golden Valley to Hennepin Ave, in downtown Minneapolis with trash bags and collected litter and trash all up and down Hennepin and placed the mountain of trash in bags at the base of the flags on Nicollet Mall. Then we biked home. Now, if we were the only one, and that was all we did, it would have been cute. But it wouldn’t have impacted federal policy. But that was just the last of several actions we did that week. Hundreds of us had abandoned the buses and walked or bicycled several miles each way to school that week. We participated in a teach-in, etc. This was student organized. Thousands of schools and colleges and universities had environmental fairs and demonstrations. Nearly all regular classes across the country on almost all levels of education were replaced on Wednesday of that week with Earth Day Teach-Ins that happened in the fresh air when at all possible. This all happened before the internet, before cellphones, without paid TV commercials or magazine ads. It scared the living daylights out of Richard Milhouse Nixon. He knew the only possible way he could get re-elected was if he would address environmental issues. He created the Environmental Protection Agency. The impact of that act and the ensuing regulations on the improvement on urban air quality, reduction of lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and a number of other ailments is amazing.

Yet, there are those who would go back to the bad old days and deregulate. They think it is too expensive to have low emissions and clean air. Here is a photo of Los Angeles before and after the EPA.

Let’s hope for blue skies from now on.

Painting is acrylic on 6″ x 6″ x 1.75″ stretched canvas.

Price: $50 including postage to US address.

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