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Opinion: Earth Day must return to its radical roots from the 60s

Austin Mann

Austin MannEarth Day was held April 22, a day that was founded on radical principles of the 1960s.

Earth Day was created in the Vietnam War era by the same people who had teach-ins. But in the 90s, Earth Day went mainstream, with up to 200 million participants in 141 countries, according to earthday.org. This entrance of Earth Day into the mainstream had a de-radicalizing effect.

Earth Day’s original purpose as a radical event needs to be renewed so that we can focus on the fundamental issues, particularly corporate capitalism, that play such large roles in harming the environment.

Today corporations are often involved in planning, funding or otherwise organizing green events. Usually at green events, corporations are invited or show up to sell “green” products. A most blatant example was the marketing for the 2012 film “The Lorax.”

The corporate powers that promote “green” products or lifestyle choices are also damaging our environment. The message of “The Lorax” was skewed with promotions for SUVs.

“It takes so much more than just a day to tend to and care for our planet,” wrote Joanna Detz, development director for Rhode Island-based ecoRI News. “We’re talking behavioral shifts that must be taught in schools and religious institutions; awareness that resources are finite; appreciation that our existence on this earth is tenuous, at best, and inextricably linked to the health of our waters, soil and air. ”

I would go a step further. Many of our environmental woes are byproducts of capitalism.

Environmental activists are regularly opposed to corporate efforts, such as the Keystone XL, that could negatively affect the environment.

Earth Day has to regain its radical nature because we need to fight climate change.

The only way to do away with that is through change that is not  revolutionary, radical and systemic. It is the same change that the originators of Earth Day hoped for, a change away from capitalism. It is the change that will make or break the human race.

Mann, a freshman computer science major from Raleigh, is an opinion writer.

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