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Earth Day 2012: A Day to Remember the Past and Shape the Future

Posted Apr 26 2012 2:10pm

Last Sunday was Earth Day 2012. That day, many of us took a moment for contemplation, and stepped back to reexamine how we use the natural resources that our amazing planet offers us.

Perhaps we took time to think about the some of the historical events led to the first Earth Day in 1970. A colleague of mine, for example, went to Rockville, Maryland, to visit the cemetery where Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, is memorialized for generations to come. For those of you unfamiliar with Carson's work, she was one of the 20th century's most influential American writers on conservationism, and her bestselling book Silent Spring—which envisioned a future where environmental pollutants devastated wildlife and human lives alike—led to the ban of DDT and other harmful pesticides.

I thought about the Cuyahoga River of Northeast Ohio, which garnered nationwide media attention in 1969 after a series of fires broke out on the river's surface, the most famous of which Time magazine described this way: "The oil-slicked river burst into flames and burned with such intensity that two railroad bridges spanning it were nearly destroyed." That incident and its backlash added momentum to the mainstream environmental movement that eventually inspired Congress to pass comprehensive environmental laws in the 1970s, including the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.

Others attended the Earth Day rally on the National Mall—in the rain, no less—to show their support for the actions of individuals and organizations around the world working to ensure a more sustainable future for their children and grandchildren. And one of my fellow Energy Savers bloggers, Elizabeth, pledged to buy and ride a bike (carefully this time) in honor of Earth Day.

But it's not too late to use Earth Day as an inspiration to commit to protecting the environment and saving energy. Check out our resources, tips, and ideas to learn how you can make every day Earth Day .

Eric Barendsen is a communications specialist and former Presidential Management Fellow with EERE's Communications and Outreach office in Washington, D.C.

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