Is Earth Day Dead?

5 July 2005

The death of Gaylord Nelson on Sunday seems soberingly symbolic for the future of environmentalism.

The former Democratic senator from Wisconsin was an avid campaigner for environmentalist causes and propelled the movement into the mainstream by founding Earth Day. The first Earth Day occurred in 1970, the same year Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency. Read the Washington Post’s obituary here; Daily Kos has the links and some interesting comments. WisOpinion gives the local angle.

Nelson’s death foreshadowed President Bush’s statement on Monday that Tony Blair was to expect no favours in the climate change deal. Clinging to economic concerns, Bush cautioned that we need not expect another Kyoto – not that Kyoto was ever truly global or fully implementable, depending on who you speak to.

This surely bodes ill for the climate change discussion, and many have abandoned hope of concrete decisions from the Summit. Bush seems to be forgetting what Nelson long advocated: environmental consciousness demands a collective movement.

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