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Pioneer Editorial: Earth Day brings new challenges

Tuesday marked a resurgence of a celebration of the Earth that began in 1970. On that day 38 years ago, 20 million people celebrated the first Earth Day. President Nixon that year created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure a safe ...

Tuesday marked a resurgence of a celebration of the Earth that began in 1970. On that day 38 years ago, 20 million people celebrated the first Earth Day. President Nixon that year created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure a safe environment and public health.

It was also a time when citizens recognized that something had to be done. Lake Erie, so choked with pollution, sometimes caught fire. Some of the nation's largest cities, such as Los Angeles, were buried in something called "smog" and national clear air and clean water legislation was needed to turn the tide. DDT was threatening to make some birds extinct, such as the bald eagle.

While Earth Day celebrations brought attention to a cleaner environment then, their need and celebration waned. Sure, Earth Day was celebrated, but not by the public in general but mostly by environmentalists determined not to let us forget about the blue marble upon which we live.

We are glad, however, to note Earth Day is back. It's back not only because the Earth is in peril again through such new terms as global warming and climate change, but also because of a new optimism that we can do things better through new renewable and alternative energy sources from hybrids, solar and wind to corn and cellulostic ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel.

That new optimism has even created a new economic term, "green economy" and "green jobs," meaning the industry and jobs created by manufacturing equipment and machinery for alternative energy production or in producing the materials for renewable energy, such as switch grass. That's an area envisioned for our area, bringing "green jobs" in renewable or alternative energy.

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This year, Earth Day has spun off a number of events do note the day and week in our area. They include such things as a climate change panel at Thursday night's Beltrami Electric Cooperative annual meeting to Saturday's ECO Expo at the Paul Bunyan Mall, featuring speakers on the environment and displays on a host of local efforts from recycling tips, river clean-up and partnering with the city to maintain parks. We encourage people to attend events and learn more about what they can do to preserve and protect the Earth.

Another important endeavor this year is the Legacy Amendment for the Environment and the Arts, the ballot question voters will face in November to dedicate an additional portion of the state's sales tax to the outdoors and water clean-up, as well as a smaller portion to cultural activities.

It is refreshing to see the renewed interest in doing what we can to keep our "house" in order. After all, it's the only one we have.

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