Today marks the anniversary of Earth day which began on April 22, 1970 by founder Gaylord Nelson, the US Senator from Wisconsin. The idea of this all originated from witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA. In 1990 Earth Day went Global to over 200 million people and 141 countries. Now, not to cause a stir with the long history of it all which you can Google to learn more.
Today I plan to share an interesting fact about me with you.
Growing up in the Panhandle of Florida you learn to appreciate the crisp blue waters, sugary white sand, and all creatures that habitat in our environment. So much that you will fight to protect what you love. Why do I say this? As a teenager, I became an active member of Greenpeace. By doing this I joined the fight against oil drilling off the coast of our beaches. The plan was to drill in the Gulf of Mexico with a range of ten miles offshore. As you can imagine it’s not what you dream about seeing when you fold out that lawn chair to soak up the vitamin D, and we all have a voice.
Back before emails, computers, or all the handy stuff that we have today we relied on the good old snail mail. Research, letters, newsletters, you name it; it was happening at my house. I was on a mission to save the world, one that’s larger than me or you. Florida’s Governor, Senate, and Congress probably had my awful handwriting down to a science from all the letters sent. Still to this day I can remember the generic letter that I first received in my motion to stop the drilling. It was an excitement that now I realize the Governor really didn’t write it himself, but he did sign it; that has to mean something.
If I remember correctly this effort went on for a period of a year or two, dedication from not only me but other members were able to stop it. Still to this day I can say that my home town is safe from them being that close to the shore.
When the massive 2010 oil spill that hit the area occurred, it was like everything that I had written came true. This spill was 40 miles from our pristine white beaches, but it didn’t matter. Current, winds, and other factors destroyed acres of shoreline, wildlife, and not to mention the lives from the crew that were lost.
How did I become so determined on this?
My main focus on stopping it all started with a trip to Ft. Morgan Alabama a place that I spent weeks at a time during the summer swimming, fishing, and camping with my father. Once I was old enough to notice a few of the rigs standing at attention across Dauphin Island, I knew that was something that I never wanted to see at home. Then one day it was on the news, talk started to circulate around town. That was all it took.
When I reached my early twenties, I talked my husband into a little side trip on one of our many vacations home. Proud of the area I would visit, and spent my childhood growing up, the need to show him all the places he had heard me describe. I stood up on the top of the fort overlooking the bay and could count more than FIFTY rigs. I have to say it wasn’t a pretty view, and not the one I remember as a child. Those are the ones that I will cherish, not the way it looks the last time I went. Today it would most likely break my heart. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a beautiful area just with more metal.
Did everyone agree with me? No… Do they still disagree with me? Yes.. It’s a hard subject to debate as now that I am older I can see both sides to the story, would I still fight to protect a beach I grew up on? Yes, and why do you ask this? I was at home a week or two after the 2010 oil spill and came home sick to my stomach as I tried to remember a beach without black spots, fish that could swim in a clean ocean, and the list could go on and on. Not to mention the impact on local businesses with summer approaching. The Pensacola area wasn’t the only area hit, as it moved across the surrounding states. They were all impacted just the same.
So today I will celebrate Earth Day as I remember back on the one thing that I hope made a slight difference. Today as I’m older, I still take part in the efforts, maybe not as much as I should. Writing this blog brings a mountain of emotions along with it, the arguments that were had for my efforts, the debates that I still love to have with my husband over it and that fact that I just realized maybe I was always meant to write. I have a voice, and maybe one day I can make a difference.
In honor of the day, recycle one item, pick up that stray piece of trash from the side of the road. We all live here, so why not take part in keeping her clean and beautiful.
*This is not for educational reasons, just my view on the subject*