Sophie Nulph is a senior magazine journalism major and writes “Open-Minded” for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
Dear Mother Earth,
While the United States has only officially celebrated you for 52 years, and the rest of the world for even fewer, I want to wish you the happiest of Earth Days.
Happy Earth Day to the power that gives humans the ability to evolve and thrive. Happy Earth Day to the mysterious entity that keeps scientists wondering, to the balance between day and night — without which humans could not have created time. I have only experienced your greatness for 22 years, but within the time I have spent with you, I have experienced your power of emotions. Just as quickly as you create greatness, you are able to take it away with natural phenomena to cleanse your grounds of toxicity.
The sun sheds vitamin D as your atmosphere protects us from the cancerous ultraviolet rays, and we thank you by burning a hole right through what you gave us to keep us from burning ourselves. When you get upset, you use hurricanes and tornadoes as tools to carve new paths to create life. After natural disasters, your soil is ready to grow new life, and communities come together to mourn and rebuild.
While the silver lining is small, Mother Earth, you help embody peacebuilding in dire situations. Communities unite and create new connections that bond neighbors and build a better community through commonality, and the one thing we all have in common is you.
Connected through our toes wiggling in your grass and our hands gripping your rocks we climb, we have universally decided to call you our home, but I regretfully and sorrowfully speak for only a handful of us when I apologize for how we have shown you our gratitude.
You have shown compassion to our homes, cities and industries through natural resources to help us excel and grace us with seasons to grow varieties of foods. You’ve given us countless mysteries in our seas, teeming with seemingly endless new things for us to discover. You have helped us excel at science and technology through resources and have granted animals the most stunning natural environments to thrive in, yet despite the success you have helped us achieve, we lack at using what we have learned to better protect you from our inevitable damage.
It is also with my sincerest apologies that the human race has taken so long to make an effort to respect you. In April 1970, when Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed the idea for the first national Earth Day, the goal of the nationwide “teach-in’s” and peaceful protests was policy reformation on environmental laws in the United States. Prior to that day — and prior to any larger push toward changing our national agenda — the U.S. had no official laws to protect your soil, your water, your air, your atmosphere. That April 22, 10 percent of the U.S. population took to the streets to protest more than 150 years of our worsening abuse of your resources. National policies were finally created.
In your protection, the U.S. created a new governmental organization called the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the prepositions of new bills. The EPA helped pass the National Environmental Education Act, Occupational and Safety and Health Act and Clean Air Act all within 1970. Two years later, the Clean Water Act passed, and in 1990, the celebration of Earth Day went global. We started trying to do better at protecting your animals, cleaning your oceans and educating future generations to properly take care of you — but it has not been enough.
While the past 52 years have pushed some waves of environmentalism ashore, those who celebrate you will always inevitably be squandered by the overwhelmingly selfish population.
You acted as our natural classroom with the resources to turn your once blue and green surface into a bustling globe of technological development, and we ignorantly your trees, dumped oil into your oceans and pushed your limited strength to impossible capacities. Our efforts to protect you lacked enough support to overcome rampages of war and human advancement, and we left you with no time to heal.
Our blunt disregard for your fragility has wreaked havoc on nature, and subsequently, society, in recent years due to overpopulation, pollution, gas emissions and nuclear testing or detonating. The scars from the knives we stabbed into your back have done nothing but expand to take over the rest of you, but I have faith in those of us like myself, those of us who grew up aware of your pain and became advocates fighting to heal our home.
In the same way a wave of environmentalism rolled across the U.S. in 1970s Volkswagen T2 buses, a tsunami is quickly approaching in the form of an upcoming generation of people with a genuine care for you, Mother Earth. Its barrel is hovering at a height so intimidating it's impossible to ignore, and it's ready to crash on shore and flood minds with the truth: We are killing you, and we need to change.
Devastated by the reality of our abuse, advocates like myself are working to right our wrongs and the generations of wrongs that came before us before our scars to your beauty are irreversible. Scientists have begun creating civil disobedience to push the severity of the ecological effects our race is forcing upon you. As they protest factories with too much emission pollution, the list of demands from scientists nationally waits for policy reform. People are once again learning to cherish you — down to your very last blade of grass and the colorful shard of seaglass shining on your shores.
We are fighting for you against the politicians letting their selfish nature shine through, like Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Sen. Manchin (D) is still proudly pro-coal; a political belief almost as out-dated as 535 white, male Congressman. Politicians like Manchin prevent new environmental policy from passing to protect your vulnerability and wounds — forever blinded by the need for economic success.
You are wondrous and beautiful, Mother Earth, and it is far past time to preserve and cherish what you have gifted us. With my deepest sympathy, I wish you a happy Earth Day on the nation’s 52nd year of celebrating you, and I promise to advocate for you forever.
A hopeful hippie
Contact Sophie with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @nulphsophie.