Anniversary: Environmental Agency marks 40 years

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2: Many religions regard the natural world as sacred—so there is a spiritual theme to today’s 40th anniversary of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Visit the official site.)

On Dec. 2, 1970, the EPA began operations. After decades of mounting pollution, the U.S. government finally moved toward a large-scale solution. But, what sparked that change?

Today, historians agree the spark was Rachel Carson. Eight years prior to 1970, Carson wrote a series of moving pieces for the New Yorker, entitled “Silent Spring.” Later, her book version of the series amounted to what “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was to the abolitionist movement: a catalyst. Suddenly, people were noticing the pesticide-laden food on their tables, the filthy air they were breathing and the murky waters they so often enjoyed swimming in. Words like “ecology” became buzzwords and conservation became a top priority.

Today, “going green” has become downright trendy and the EPA employs 17,000 people. Engineers, scientists, public affairs specialists, legal experts and more all make up the EPA team of the 21st century. (Check out an article in the Wall Street Journal on the anniversary.) Although many believe we still face global warming threats, we now can buy organic produce at most grocery stores, feel safe drinking our water in the city and walk down the street without worrying about lead pollution—thanks, in part, to the EPA. (An article in the Washington Post details some of the current issues the EPA is facing.)

If you’re wanting to play a part of today’s anniversary, try making your home more energy-efficient for the winter months by insulating doors and windows or installing a digital thermostat. Or gather with a group from your place of worship and volunteer to clean up your community!

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