Earth Day’s Portents


Earth Day — April 22, 1970 — has been given enormous credit for what it accomplished, especially in changing politics for the better. And that’s good. But I’m here to argue that Earth Day’s accomplishments are actually far more profound, pervasive, and lasting that even most fervent environmentalists think.

Earth Day was a “black swan” — that is, a totally unexpected event that changed everything, and did so permanently. Thus Earth Day was full of portents for the planet and for the people living on it.

Look at what it did for little old me. I became an Earth Day organizer to fight environmental pollution by big businesses — that was my bag then. But now I realize that in so doing I was also serving as a moral exemplar for others and the proponent of a powerful new religious idea. Hot stuff, right?


I served as the National Chair of Earth Day ’80; my good friend Mike McCabe was the Executive Director