Today marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Since the first Earth Day, the United States has made significant strides in improving the quality of our environment: our air, water, land and natural resources. As a U.S. Senator, I strongly believe that we have a duty to preserve the environment not just so we can have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, but because this world is in our care for our children and our children’s children.
Over forty years ago, Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly ratified the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Commonwealth’s constitution, sending a clear message about our responsibilities as stewards of the Earth. That amendment reads: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
We can all draw inspiration from a fellow Pennsylvanian who taught the nation that promoting environmental stewardship is an integral component of public service. Rachel Louise Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. She inspired an environmental movement through her 1962 book, Silent Spring.
In light of her work, it was my pleasure to co-sponsor a resolution with Senator Cardin and Senator Mikulski honoring the life of Rachel Carson. Ms. Carson dedicated her life to environmental stewardship, and her work serves to remind us that we all have a greater responsibility to care for this planet – both for the enrichment of our own lives and the enrichment of those to come.
Earth Day serves as a reminder of the obligation we each possess to care for and conserve this world. As we celebrate this day, may we also take a moment to consider the beauty and wonder of the natural world around us. For in the words of Rachel Carson, “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”