April 19, 2011

        Today’s "Cool photo of the Week" is from the very first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. Forty years ago we didn’t have the kind of environmental protection laws that we have today. One of my favorite writers, Rachel Carson, had just published a book called SILENT SPRINGIn it she warned that an artificial pesticide called DDT, which was in wide use at the time, could cause human sickness and major ecological damage. Imagine a time when major bodies of water were too polluted to support aquatic life, and Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted with oil and toxic chemicals that it burst into flames by spontaneous combustion! That was the scene when Earth Day was first established 41 years ago by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson.


College students, in particular, rose to the call, and turned out in the millions to demonstrate in support of new environmental protections on that first Earth Day. In New York City, a Pace University student named Peter Hallerman grabbed an old gas mask (his mother had been a nurse in World War II), and took it with him to the demonstration. A photographer snapped this picture, and it has become a world famous symbol of Earth Day through the years.

 When I began writing books, Rachel Carson was the writer who most influenced me. I remember reading her wonderful book THE SEA AROUND US and thinking that I would love to write books about nature and science with the same sense of awe and admiration that she showed in her writings. Rachel Carson inspired me to write when I began and still inspires me to this day. What better time to celebrate her books than now on Earth Day! 

 Photo: ucsb.edu


What are you doing this Earth Week to contribute to the global effort to pledge a Billion Acts of Green? Click on “Comments,” at the bottom of this story, and tell me what you are doing. We will publish all your comments in one big article at the end of Earth Week, to honor each writer’s promise to protect our planet, and inspire other readers to do the same.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

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