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Earth Day is a 50-year-old celebration

Earth Day is an annual event held around the world, April 22, to demonstrate the need for environmental protection and is celebrated by over 1 billion people globally.

First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated by Earth Day networks in more than 193 countries and is 50 years young this year.

Man has dwelt on this planet for a long time. Spring has been the season for rebirth, with the singing of birds to rejoice in regrowth.

Now in many parts of the world, spring is strangely silent, for many of the birds are forever gone.

As the world turns, man has tried to harness the land by using a swath of chemicals that poisons not only the insects against which they are directed but also, in turn, affects the birds, the fish in the rivers, the earth which supplies our food and, inevitably humankind.

In the sixties, I bought a book titled "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson who described what was going on around the world on a grand scale. She collected data and translated it so that any layman could understand the fragileness of the "balance of nature."

She pointed out how careful people must be with the great powers now at their command to not disturb this delicate balance. It became life-altering to a new generation on the brink of wanting to make a change for the earth, and it became massive in its scope.

This era was when the flower children of the 60s grew into a movement and were one of the dynamics in how Earth Day was born.

While humans have been progressively poisoning our environment, many types of insects, including flies and mosquitoes, have been breeding superior races composed of individuals immune to chemical attack.

But there is a positive side to the picture. People are learning more and more about nonchemical controls that, in the long run, will be both safer and more effective than the deadly chemicals which are still poisoning the earth, for there is a lot of work to be done.

Look how the word "organic" is more in use now and how the grocery stores have dedicated sections in the produce department labeled "organic" and "locally grown" to lessen the number of miles food has to travel before it arrives at the market.

Look how the home gardening movement is changing people's backyards these days and reinventing the victory garden, which grew out of World War II. I remember planting my first garden as a child with my mother back in Los Angeles.

We planted potatoes, beets and carrots, which is what she grew up with planting on the family farm. Those are called root crops, and they are stored in earthen root-cellars, which were like an outdoor cooler, and brought up to the house as needed through the long, cold winters of Norrland, Sweden.

I read the work of Jane Goodall, who was living in Africa out in the jungles studying the chimpanzees and spent her entire life dedicated to a broader spectrum of our interconnection of this species. She was an inspiration, and her life's work is shared with the world today.

Dr. Carl Sagan was another mentor who brought light and a common language to everyone who understand that this blue marble floating in space has just so many resources, and man is pilfering them in non-sustainable ways while conducting their lives.

Within the last year, a young 16-year-old teenage girl named Greta Thunberg rose to the forefront for environmental justice. She spoke to the United Nations, parliaments and global leaders to state the urgency of not only speaking but taking immediate action in ways to solve the global problems that man has created.

Since the industrial age began, there has been incredible progress in all walks of life, yet on the flip side there have been great devastations around the globe.

The Amazon rainforests are being cut to the ground to grow crops and raise cattle. Global droughts are changing the skin of the land, the ocean's waters are rising day by day, wildfires increasing year by year, food supplies being threatened and now the pandemic crisscrossing the earth has given new challenges for everyone to address and overcome.

There must be more done in reducing, more recycling and more creative rethinking.

Science has told people for years what is going on; people must investigate and become more engaged.

So where do people go from here? Perhaps the silver lining of the current global pandemic will make everyone think about Mother Earth. Maybe a reflection of what people have done teaches them that nature is more durable than all humans put together.

I wish that this particular time spent at home with family has brought about new connections, new appreciation and new re-knitting of family values for people who are one big family living on earth.

An Earth Fair for 2020 was planned for April in Balboa Park in San Diego but canceled due to the closure of the park with the current conditions. I have talked with the organizers who have rescheduled this celebration for Sept. 13, so I hope the community will join me in my tree walk in the park at that time.

In the past 50 years since Earth Day began, grassroots groups have been doing beautiful things about the world. Let's not look back in the rearview mirror and ask why people didn't do more. For what happens to the Earth, happens to everyone on it.

Roger Boddaert is an ornamental landscape horticulturist, aka "The Tree Man of Fallbrook" and can be reached at (760) 728-4297 to answer any garden questions.


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