Today, Earth Day hits the big 4-0. To commemorate this milestone, Governor Rell told Connecticut residents that although the progress we've made in four decades should be celebrated, we have much more work to do to clean up our corner of the planet. "Our rivers and streams run clearer, our lakes and ponds are brighter, our once-blighted brownfields are being reclaimed and reused and far more stringent regulation safeguards our environment, the Governor said. Perhaps most importantly, the Long Island Sound is once again rightly considered an environmental treasure worth protecting and enhancing." However, reducing pollution from auto emissions and industrial sources and finding alternative and renewable energy are still to be tackled, she said.
" Earth Day at 40, Connecticut's Environmental Past, Present and Future ," is a video produced by the state's Department of Environmental Protection. It stunningly recalls the careless, destructive habits that preceded the first Earth Day in 1970. It also shows how far we've come in understanding the importance of protecting our environment.
In the video , Environmental Lawyer and Trinity College faculty member Russ Brenneman describes the Connecticut River as it was in the late 60's, before there was an Earth Day. He calls it "the most beautfiul open sewer in America." He says, "At that time, the first thing you did if you happened to unfortunately fall off your boat into the river, would be to go to your doctor for a hepatitis shot and heavens knows what."
Connecticut, like other states, was also oblivious to the dangers of air polllution. As the video describes, people thought the constantly chugging smokestacks were benign, even though their particles landed everywhere. "In the early 70's, if you went out to your car and you rubbed your finger across your car, it was covered with soot," says Julie Belaga, former CT Legislator and EPA Region Administrator. "Those were very distinct pollution products," she adds.
Watch the DEP's 16 minute video and you'll also marvel at what forty years of awareness has done to recover and reclaim Connecticut's natural resources. Maybe you'll also be inspired to take up Mother Earth's cause. As Governor Rell said, "Earth Day is a reminder that the job of protecting the environment is only begun, never completed.
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