To the Editor:

Fifty years ago, April 22, 1970, I was a senior in high school. I along with thousands of other people in the US, held the first Earth Day. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, both rural and urban dwellers and business and labor leaders. The event launched what is known as the Environmental Movement and helped pave the way for the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Soon after, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. These significantly improved our public health and inspired countless conservations efforts.

I’ve heard stories by people who were children in the 50’s, that the Androscoggin River was so polluted that it smelled horribly putrid and was too toxic to swim and fish in. Due to the Clean Water Act, led by Sen. Muskie born in Rumford, Maine, regulations were put in place that transformed much of the Androscoggin River to swimmable and fishable conditions. Recreational use has increased significantly. Unfortunately, since 2017, many of those regulations have been reversed and the quality of our water and air are being threatened again.

And now our biggest challenge- the climate crisis. It is very clear to me, and to a majority of scientists, that our use of fossil fuels, releases exorbitant amounts of carbon dioxide into the air and is increasing the rate of warming at an exponential rate. We are responsible for that. Some of the effects are: extreme weather patterns, rising seas, ocean acidification, extreme wildfires, drought, human displacement, wars due to famine and now we are beginning to learn about possible connections between pandemics and climate changes.

Reducing the use of greenhouse gases is like turning a large tanker away from a giant iceberg. I am maintaining hope that we will be able to turn it around. But it takes a huge global effort. I have been uplifted to see how during this pandemic our community and communities across the globe have rallied to support each other. The rapid spread of this virus around the world has reminded us of how we are all connected- in both negative ways, but also can be in positive ways. I live here in Maine to be surrounded by nature’s beauty. I want and I hope that my grandchildren and many other generations will continue to experience nature’s beauty and be sustained by it as well. But it takes all of us working together for that to be possible.

Emily Ecker

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