Guest Blogger, Ed Caum, CVB Director South Padre Island
I remember my first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, because it was the first Earth Day. I was 10. To set the stage I was raised in Alaska where we relied on our environment to provide us with many of the products we consumed daily. Fish from the ocean, vegetables from our garden, wild game from the forest and sky. Subsistence living is as true today in Alaska as was back then. Subsistence only works when it is supported by sustainability. The main industries on Wrangell Island in Southeast Alaska in the 1970s were logging and fishing. Back then it was strip logging, which has been found to be non-sustainable.
Fishing has also proven to need limits and management. For those of us kids participating in the first Earth Day, we were given a cloth patch. My mom sewed it onto my green wool jacket at my request and I wore it proudly. Until I outgrew the jacket. I have never outgrown the memory of knowing I was participating in the grassroots of a movement that became an international event. Now again I find myself living on the coast where our every action can affect our idyllic island, bountiful bay, or generative Gulf. We harvest from the Gulf and the Laguna Madre fresh catches daily of a wide variety of species, including sea life and shellfish. Regulations still protect our fisheries from being over-harvested as best the government can. Those who don’t follow regulations are sometimes caught. Too often not.
As a society are we still trying to make our environment cleaner, more sustainable? In some cases, yes. In other ways no. Earth Day stands as an annual reminder that we as a society can do better. Work harder. Demand sustainability. It stands today as the same catalyst for a grassroots effort that it did 51 years ago. Have I done enough? No. Am I getting better with recycling, volunteering, and championing our planet? Yes. It’s still not enough. I have to work harder. We have to work harder. Where do you stand? Where will we be in 49 years?