On This EARTH DAY, 2018, Look Outdoors. This Earth Is The Only Oasis We Have in the Universe

We’ve Searched the Stars and So Far There Is  No Other Oasis –  There  Is No Planet B!

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted April 22nd, 2018 on Niagara At Large

On the very first Earth Day – on April 22nd, 1970 – millions of people around the world rallied to bring an end to the greed and stupid at the root of the unsustainable polluting and plundering or what makes life possible on this planet.

The first Earth Day – April 22nd, 1970

That is me, wearing the gas mask and holding a sign reading; ‘If you Aren’t Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Pollution’ sign, with some high school friends in the Niagara, Ontario community of Welland after we managed to talk our teachers into letting us out of class to participate in that first Earth Day.

Perhaps naively, many of us back then believed that a few massive rallies like this would be enough to put human communities around the world on the path to environmental sustainability.

But greed and stupidity are stubborn foes.

At an Earth Day march in Buffalo, New York this past 20017. File photo by Doug Draper

There were many eminent scientist at the time who wrote detailed reports about human activities that were creating serious environmental problems like climate change, and about how we are approaching a “tipping point” – a possible point of no return – that could lead to nightmarish environmental and economic costs for present and future generations.

Forty-Eight years later, greed and stupidity are still with us. They remains the fertile ground for the most irresponsible members of the financial and corporate communities, and for populist politicians to discredit and demonize the science and to gut environment protection programs – all while spinning a tale that we can turn the clock back to an illusory time when everyone prospered when the captains of industry were allowed to discharge, emit, mine, strip mine, drill, cut down and pave over anything they want without rules.

On this Earth Day, I want to leave you here with a few words, shared with the World Commission on environment and Development in the 1980s, by one of the most passionate advocates for environmental protection Canada ever had in federal government,  the late Canadians Environment Minister Charles Caccia, who said this –  

Charles Caccia

“We are now just beginning to realize that we must find an alternative to our ingrained behaviour of burdening future generations resulting from our misplaced belief that there is a choice between economy and the environment,” the Environment Minister and former Liberal MP from the Toronto area and cabinet minister for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau, said.  “That choice, in the long term, turns out to be an illusion with awesome consequences for humanity.”

On this Earth Day, and in the days ahead, please give what Charles Caccia said for that World Commission for a milestone report called ‘Our Common Future’, as this world’s ice caps continue to melt and the waters of our rivers, lakes and oceans continue to fill with plastic.

I was still in my teens when I stood in the shadow of those filthy smokestacks in Welland on that first Earth Day in 1979, and I have not yet lost the hope that drove me to picket polluters back then and to go on to work for many years as an environment reporter for a daily newspaper in Niagara.

What is left of that hope is inspired mostly by today’s generation of millennial and by their younger brothers and sisters who seem more environmental conscious than me and my peers were when we were that age.

My message to these young people is this.

The “awesome consequences” that Charles Caccia warned about more than three decades ago are unfolding more rapidly and fiercely than ever before with all of the carbon gases choking the air, the rising seas, the severe weather attended by drought, floods, destructive winds and wildfires and extinction of ever more plant and wildlife species.

For the sake of your future, try not to sell out and burn out the way so many generations coming up before you did.

Continue to be the resisters and disrupters. Continue to shout out what I heard so many young people shout out at that very moving and magnificent ‘March for Our Lives’ demonstration you organized in Washington, D.C. and in communities around the world this past March.


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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders




One response to “On This EARTH DAY, 2018, Look Outdoors. This Earth Is The Only Oasis We Have in the Universe

  1. Sheila Krekorian

    As part of the “think globally, act locally” mantra I would encourage residents of south St Catharines to take a walk or drive behind the Glendridge Plaza and look at the garbage that is blowing into Dick’s Creek behind Riverview Blvd between Oakridge Ave and Glenridge Ave.
    The area behind Cat’s Caboose is extremely well maintained but the rest is a mess. I have contacted my St Cath Councillor Joe Kushner who has been in contact with the Plaza Manager about this but I have seen zero improvement.
    The animals that live in the ravine (we saw two deer) deserve a clean place to live. They have so little natural habitat left.
    Please join me in demanding this area be cleaned up by May 1. We can all shop elsewhere.


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