Happy Earth Day

This year marks two important anniversaries—the 50th anniversary designating the Apostle Islands a National Lakeshore and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd. Both of these accomplishments, and several more landmark environmental laws, came from the hard work and advocacy of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. 

Senator Nelson was one of the many Wisconsin natives who made their life’s work not just about the environment, but working toward a better world for all of us. I’ve been thinking about a quote of his recently, and I feel that applies to the crisis we’re facing today: “The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”

I believe Senator Nelson’s words are perfect echoes of the tribal belief that we must live and work now for the benefit of the next seven generations. 

The hardships we are facing in this state due to the global pandemic are devastating. But while the mental and economic stress of business closures and staying at home are very real, it could have been much worse. Through collective action and putting the health and safety of our community first by staying at home (for those who can) and following state guidelines, we have protected the most vulnerable among us. These actions have saved lives. 

In these trying times, this gives me hope. We are not out of the woods by any means, but we have shown what we are capable of. As a nation, we can listen to good science, make tough decisions and big sacrifices to work for a better future. We can value the good of humanity and society, even when it means giving up things we hold dear. 

This is going to be important in the coming decades. I know in Northern Wisconsin—possibly the most beautiful place on earth—we have a deep and profound respect for nature. I have faith that the problems we face from our changing climate will be met head on with innovation, hard work and enthusiasm from the people of the Northwoods. 

In honor of Earth Day, I encourage all of you to go outside. We can honor our state’s history of environmental activism when we appreciate the beauty of nature, and it can bring peace to us in a time of turmoil. 

As for me, I will celebrate Earth Day by thinking of the future. I will continue to represent the people of my district who want a better tomorrow for all of us, which includes family-supporting

jobs, clean air and water, a secure retirement, and a flourishing Main Street. I still believe that this is possible, and that this can all be compatible with protecting our environment. We can come together and come out better on the other side of this crisis. 

As Senator Nelson said, “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”