The founder of Earth Day reflects, 35 years later
There’s not a whole lot new in this essay by Earth Day founder Denis Hayes, but it’s good reading as that day approaches. I would just echo Jeff in saying that Hayes focuses a little too exclusively on politics. The business and cultural realms are if anything more fecund sources of creative green ideas these days.
Below the fold, I reproduce an exerpt from a Robert Kennedy speech, taken from Hayes’ essay. As an exercise for readers, imagine George W. Bush — really picture the posture, the intonations, the accent — speaking these words:
The gross national product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors, and jails for the people who break them. The gross national product includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm and missiles and nuclear warheads.
And if the gross national product includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials … The gross national product measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America — except whether we are proud to be Americans.
You may now weep softly.