Earth Day and Pogo

By Eilene Lyon

Today we celebrate Earth Day, an international event that takes place in nearly 200 countries around the globe, involving roughly a billion participants.

Throughout the 1960s, environmental legislation was going nowhere, as Americans roiled about our participation in the Vietnam War. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, an environmental champion, decided to create a national teach-in event, modeled after the anti-war protests.

Given how much cleaner our air and water are today, we sometimes get complacent about how bad it used to be – and could be again in the future. Denis Hayes, then a 25-year-old Harvard Law student, was the organizer of the first Earth Day in 1970. He reminded us in 2010 what it was like back then,

“In Los Angeles, for simply breathing, it was the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. We had rivers that were catching on fire, lakes that were dying. The national emblem the American eagle was on the verge of extinction.”

That first event finally pushed political action into the limelight. By the end of the year, the U. S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) had been formed, and anti-pollution laws started to get passed, namely the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

A few potential instigations for this event were the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, yet another fire on Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River, and this earth-rise picture captured by NASA astronauts.

297755main_GPN-2001-000009_full

Image credit: NASA

The most quoted line from Walt Kelly’s Pogo comic strip is:

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

But many don’t realize that line was created for a poster for the very first Earth Day in 1970. Kelly used it again in a 1971 Earth Day strip.

Kelly-Earth-Day-poster1970

028be667cea824a7f95150a359a45ff8

Pogo was one of my favorite comics growing up. My Grandma Halse had a couple of books of Pogo compilations. The genius of Walt Kelly (1913 – 1973) was his ability to make political satire fun for children as well as adults. Pogo, an opossum living in the Okefenokee Swamp, and his many animal friends had a delightful down-south vernacular that charmed and amused me. Kelly claimed that each character represented different aspects of his own personality drawn to extreme. Whatever his secret, he created a strip that has endured over time.

The Earth Day Network, which organizes Earth Day each year, also promotes year-round environmental activism. They partner with over a hundred thousand schools around the world, providing curriculum to use throughout the school year.

Likely there is an Earth Day celebration and activities in your community. But we should all think of every day as Earth Day. Think about how you can have a lasting impact. Help educate your friends and family about the need to care for our earth. And find ways to minimize your impact on the environment, such as driving less, recycling, and replacing your light bulbs.

Earth button

 

Feature Image: by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Sources:

https://www.voanews.com/a/earth-day-1970-a-grassroots-moment-that-sparked-a-movement-91718679/161884.html  (Denis Hayes quote)

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090421-earth-day-facts.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

https://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/events/earthday/welcome.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/first-earth-day-celebrated-april-22-1970-222144

https://fresnoalliance.com/earth-day-2011/ (pogo poster in color)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(comic_strip)

3 thoughts on “Earth Day and Pogo

Add yours

  1. Good heavens, I just tweeted that quote. By itself. With a Happy Earth Day.

    I wonder how many people remember it, and understand how significant it was when it was first printed? Great thoughts here in your post.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Captured and Exposed

Tales from the Annals of Crime

The Letters

Louise Mabey

the rescued photo

discovering the story it tells

Tokens of Companionship

Portraits from the first 100 years of photography

Teralbah

A Family History in Australia

My Family Finds

A genealogical journey

Cinziarosa's Descendants (c)

Welcome to My Immigrant, Family Research, and Ancestry Blog

Gerry's Family History

Sharing stories from my family history

A Frank Angle

Thoughts from the Inner Mind

Wangiwriter's Blog

A blog about my writing and the things that I care about

Julie Around The Globe

The less traveled paths

FamilyHistoryNinja

Stories from my family history research.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction

Chips Off the Old Block

A blog devoted to genealogical wanderings - dedicated to family near and far, through distance and time

Everyone Has a Story

My Family Stories

Baugh, Bass, and Beyond

Finding the facts behind the legends!

Hollywood Genes

Formerly Fading, But Not Forgotten 🌸 Zoe Krainik Blogs about Old Hollywood and Genealogy

WE CHOOSE TO IGNORE SUFFERING WHEN OUR FEAR EXCEEDS OUR MERCY

a nurses' perspective on the need for reform of our current healthcare system

%d bloggers like this: