April 17, 2013

Milwaukee Courier

Legislatively Speaking: Celebrate EARTH Day!

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

On April 22, we can all come together to celebrate the place we call home.  For centuries, the immensity of our planet forbade any notion that humans could make any significantly impacts.  As our knowledge and understanding of the world grew, we also came to understand the influence that humans have on the environment.  One need not look far away to recognize the negative impacts on nature.  In Wisconsin, humans have destroyed 99% of our prairie land, once the dominant ecosystem in our state.  Nitrogen and phosphorus run-off have contributed to algal blooms that have devastated our fish populations and diminished oxygen levels in our rivers and streams.  Throughout our waterways and landscapes, invasive species have pushed many native species towards extinction and extirpation. 

The origins of Earth Day lie in the recognition of these serious issues.  Yet, we seek not simply to acknowledge our impact on the world but to resolve it.  Earth Day is a reminder of our responsibility to take care of our home.  That responsibility lies on each of us, our families, our cities and villages, our counties, our state, and our government.  On Earth Day, we can ask ourselves, “what have we done to better our planet”?

As part of the Milwaukee community, we have made great strides in our commitment to our environment.  Recently, the EPA recognized Milwaukee’s effort to retain clean drinking water and reduce water pollution.  Milwaukee has invested and promoted several initiatives that are recognized world-wide for their innovative approaches to manage waste and treat water.  The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District has become a national leader in policies and practices that focus on environmental, economic, and social sustainability.   Milwaukee has also created a Water Council which provides hubs for water research and industry.  The Water Council has brought together local water technology companies, the Great Lakes WATER institution, and the first of its kind School of Freshwater Science at UW Milwaukee. 

The steps Milwaukee is taking as city are only the beginning to our commitment to protecting our home.  This responsibility belongs to each of us.  On Earth Day, we need to think about the steps we can take in our own life to keep our planet safe. Can we use a little less electricity?  Can we throw out fewer waste? Can we use a less water?

I encourage you to spend Earth Day at one of the events below.  Human society is part of our Earth and we need to live in harmony with it.  Take time to celebrate all our Earth has given us and remember that to keep our home safe, we have to give a little in return.

City of Milwaukee / Rock the Green Earth Day Celebration
A zero-waste celebration with a bicycle-powered stage, waste reclamation stations, and sustainable, organic food provided by some of Milwaukee's favorite food truck vendors.
When: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Friday, April 19
Where: Market Street at Milwaukee City Hall, between Wells and Kilbourn
How much: Free

Earth Day Festival at Washington Park
Celebrate Earth Day through music, canoeing, nature walks, trash roundups, games, food, resource booths and more.
When: noon - 4 p.m. Saturday, April 20
Where: Urban Ecology Center - Washington Park, 1859 N. 40th Street
How much: Free, donations appreciated
Contact: 414.964.8505