The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 22nd, 2010

Happy Earth Day

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

My heart is calloused, blackened from a lifetime of disappointment and broken promises, one of which is the so called “Earth Day”. Like many of the utopian ideologies which emerged into the body politic during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the disestablishmentarian ethos of “saving the earth” have become corporatized, profitable, and serve as convenient talking points for a political and business class which still dumps battery acid and raw sewage into rivers. They’re working on it, they say.

from wikipedia

On April 22 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, Freeway and expressway revolts, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Feel good programs like municipal recycling and so called organic farming fall apart when you visit Newtown Creek, where reality is impossible to ignore, and is a location that the conversations of former hippies seldom mention. It is psychologically easier to attend a rally in the Shining City of Manhattan’s Central Park, or some concert and street fair plastered with corporate logos which present a vision of zero sacrifice coupled with affluent plenty. The hard realities of pollution, endemic and omnipresent, don’t sound good at cocktail parties.


Forty years after the first Earth Day, the world is in greater peril than ever. While climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, it also presents the greatest opportunity – an unprecedented opportunity to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future.

Earth Day 2010 can be a turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs. Earth Day Network is galvanizing millions who make personal commitments to sustainability. Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy. Join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “Establishment” won the war, you see, and oddly enough the great hero of the environmental movement is the last person you’d ever think it is. It’s not Edmund Muskie, Gaylord Nelson, or Ralph Nader who should be celebrated on Earth Day- instead it should be the man who oversaw and implemented the widest and most powerful set of environmental regulations ever implemented in the United States.

The creations of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Water Pollution Control Act amendments of 1972, and the omnibus National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) were accomplished, funded, and implemented by the very face of the hated “Establishment”- Richard M. Nixon.


Recognizing the importance of reaching youth and engaging them to be effective advocates for their future, we have decided to return to one of the original strategies of Earth Day 1970 – the environmental teach-in.

We are working together with the New York City Department of Education, the United Federation of Teachers Green Schools Committee and the Green Schools Alliance to create a dynamic and powerful Earth Week for New York City’s next generation of young environmental leaders and innovators.

In order to assist in making the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day special and memorable, we have developed and/or gathered a variety of resources for your use including an environmental speaker’s bureau, films and videos and lesson plans and activities. Many of these resources will also be appropriate for higher education, corporate or non-profit organizations.

photo by Mitch Waxman

Don’t get me wrong, things have improved somewhat since 1970- however, 40 years later- the Newtown Creek still pulses with unknown compounds and raw sewage, Big Allis still pumps millions of pounds of carbon into the atmosphere, and the toxic leftovers of the industrial revolution still gurgle through rusting and deeply buried pipelines just below the surface.

Just forget about that though, as you sort your trash and worry about impossible and poorly understood issues like climate change. Don’t mention anything that might disrupt the party line, as the hippies are now elderly and we wouldn’t want to upset them as they drink their fine wines and satisfy their “sense of themselves”. Don’t remind them that they elected Reagan.

Environmentalism is a marketing strategy now, so just enjoy those free trade, sustainable, and organic products you all love- secure in the knowledge that corporate america always has your best interests in mind and is focused on long term solutions.


So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.”

Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 22, 2010 at 1:59 pm

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