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50th Anniversary of Earth Day & Loss of Public Health Protections

— April 22, 2020

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we direct our focus to hope. Hope for the future, and hope for today.

Life Saving Power of U.S. Public Heath Service Subverted.

April 22, 2020 the world celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, started in 1970 – a time of high hopes. 

This year the EPA is celebrating its 50th Anniversary too. On Dec. 2, 1970 the EPA was created under the Nixon Administration. 

Note the logo of EPA, the earth as a flower. Also note the picture of the first EPA Administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, being sworn in with President Nixon behind him.1

The first EPA Administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, being sworn in with President Nixon behind him. Image via, public domain.
The first EPA Administrator, William D. Ruckelshaus, being sworn in with President Nixon behind him. Image via, public domain.

Nixon created the EPA by transferring programs from the U.S. Public Health Service. The Air Pollution Program in which I was working was one of the agencies. 

There was a sick joke going around the new agency that our mission was no longer to protect public health but now to protect birds and bunnies.

At the time, I was still a hereditary Republican (who had worked in Connecticut to help Sen. Goldwater gain the 1964 nomination). 

My work in the U.S. Public Health Service from January 1966 to December 1970 had impressed me with the decency, honesty, candor and dedication of the leaders I worked with and for – in the Public Health Service. But under the leaders at EPA it was different.2

Witnessing the Growth of the Climate Crisis 

Over the past 50 years, we have seen some air pollution control progress, such as removal of lead from gasoline, that merits celebration. But, the EPA record on preventing the growth of the existential threat of the Climate Crisis has been tragic for both the U.S. and the world.3

50 Years of Diminished U.S. Public Health Service

Today, we the people reap the grim results of 50 years of the policies first put in place by the Nixon Administration to diminish and downgrade the mission of the U.S. Public Health Service. Those policies were then magnified by subsequent Administrations in varying degrees both by Republicans and Democrats. Corporate supremacists corrupted both political parties.4

With Americans dying by the tens of thousands in the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020, the Federal government has been proven to be totally unprepared with masks, personal protective equipment, tests, medical equipment, programs, plans, and personnel.

Ralph Nader, one American who perhaps has done the most to prevent tragedies, wrote a prophetic warning on infectious disease in January of 2004.5

His warning was one of many that went unheeded so far.6

And now, we all suffer. When will we ever learn?

References (Live Links):

1. EPA at 50: Progress for a Stronger Future

2. Right v. Wrong: True Story on Air Pollution, Science & the Law

3. 50 Years of “Legal” Climate Change

4. Republican Racketeers: Violent Roots of Republican Policies

5. Infectious Disease

6. Powers of the People on Earth Day 2017

Tom Lehrer Sings “Pollution.” Video courtesy of Youtube channel, Historic Workplace and Environmental Health and Safety Films and is originally from the short Federal government film titled “Pollution” made in 1966 and 1967 by Astrafilms for the U.S. Communicable Disease Center. The film “Pollution” was then distributed by the National Medical Audio-Visual Center. Thanks to Mark D. Catlin for permission to use.

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