Earth Day, Cowgirl Poetry, Richard Nixon and the EPA

Since 1970, Earth Day has always been observed on April 22.

A Brief History of Earth Day

Earth Day was the idea of Wisconsin Senator, Gaylord Nelson, who came up with the idea in 1969, as a way to promote environmental awareness on a planetary level. In April 1970, the first celebration of Earth Day occurred with the majority of activities, occurring on college campuses and in large urban areas in the U.S. A year later, not only did President Nixon give Earth Day official recognition, but he made April 22 part of Earth Week.

Earth Day is still celebrated today, as over the years, the global challenges have changed and environmental legislation is nowhere as universally popular as it was back in the 70s.

The President and “the King” in 1970

Richard Nixon: Our Greenest President?

Richard Nixon was not much of a cowboy, but as an environmentalist, he did pretty good, signing 14 pieces of Environmental legislation during his tenure.This little known fact about our 37th president may come as a surprise to many political observers of that era, especially since he showed little or no interest in environmental issues before becoming president.

Nixon began his environmental legacy in 1969 by signing into law The National Environmental Policy Act, which created environmental impact statements.

Then in 1970, Nixon proposed and pushed through Congress the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which was quickly followed by the Clean Air Act and the creation of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration}.

By the time Nixon resigned in 1974, he had also passed the Clean Water Act (1972), the Endangered Species Act (1973), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (actually signed by Ford in 1974).

Yes, folks that’s quite a legacy.

Cowboys and Environmentalists

Today, the rancher (and the Cowboy) have their backs against the wall financially, as they face increasing pressure from a changing world to their way of life.  Loss of grazing land is just one challenge, as other threats can come from growing populations in the New West and the a new kind of activism arising from radical environmentalists.

Nonetheless, the Cowboy poets are thriving, as larger audiences thirst for the old storytelling skills of bygone eras. Even though these modern-day bards may be out of sync with the urban reality of rap and slam poetry, they have caught the attention of many, who have never saddled a horse or roped a calf.

Sometimes Cowgirls Don’t Get the Blues

Today, cowboys and cowboy poets are generally pictured as having a close relationship and understanding of the land. However, in today’s complex world, they do not seem to be overly concerned about global warming or climate change.

Perhaps, this attitude is best summarized by Nevada poet and rancher, Carolyn Duferrena.

A Cowgirl Contemplates Climate Change

by Carolyn Duferrena

I have to say it’s kinda nice
Not to spend the winter
Chopping ice,
And to tell you the truth
When I wake up in the morning
The last thing on my mind
Is global warming.

 

Final Note

This blog has been also posted at my alternative site, Bluefoxcafe, which can also be found at WordPress.com. I am currently undertaking an experiment to determine which place gets more traffic.

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Sweet

An Ice Cream cone adorns the side of a building in Niagara Falls, Canada, photo by author

Sweet

Better get to the ice cream quick before somebody else finds it.

Sweet

Local

This rural Colorado scene was taken from right near I was staying recently.
This rural Colorado scene was taken from right near I was staying recently.

Local

Currently, I find myself in a place that is called the western slope of Colorado. Situated, halfway between Denver and Salt Lake  City, this part of the state sees much less traffic than other places. I snapped this picture of the surrounding grassland and alkali flats recently on my way into town. Since then I have been staying in town.

 

Local

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Nostalgia

I found this VW painted on a fence in Las Vegas and it brought memories of when my father bought a brand new VW bug for 1300 dollars in 1960, photo by author.
I found this VW painted on a fence in Las Vegas and it brought memories of when my father bought a brand new VW bug for 1300 dollars in 1960, photo by author.

Nostalgia

Back in 1960, Volkswagens or the people’s car as my father liked to call it, weren’t very common. So many times when we passed another VW bug on the road, we would honk at the other car and almost always, the other vehicle would return the favor. More often than not this method of recognition was initiated by the other driver.

Anyway our little beetle (pre John. Paul, George and Ringo by a year or two) lasted for 100,000 miles at which time my father had a rebuilt engine inserted into the vehicle. Since I had two younger brothers, many times I had to share the back seat, whenever we went somewhere as a family.

Eventually, our little two door was replaced by a station wagon, but the sight of a “bug” on the round, usually triggers of my father, who passed away 15 years ago.

 

Nostalgia

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Edge

Niagara falls as seen from the Canadian side, photo by author
Niagara falls as seen from the Canadian side, photo by author

Edge

This post is all about going over the edge. This is something that you definitely do not want to do at this place, even if you are in a wooden barrel.

In this current election cycle, “going over the edge” seems to have become the norm. Perhaps, if some of the major candidates would cross the border and consider going over the edge from this viewpoint, they might think twice.  And then again they might not, for sometimes they appear to be in a self destructive mode.

Edge

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