Fifty years ago three events occurred within days of each other which had a profound influence. On April 17, 1970, Apollo 13 landed safely in the Pacific after a journey of heroic ingenuity and technology. Five days later, the world celebrated the first Earth Day with hope for the future of our planet. Twelve days after that, on May 4, 1970, four Kent State students were killed and nine were wounded by the Ohio National Guard.

These happenings are vivid memories to me, but that’s another story. The question is what did we learn and how it did change things? Corporate America gobbled up the NASA technology, using it for our benefit and profit. Solar technology, which NASA has relied upon and which brought Apollo back home, was ignored. I will celebrate Earth Day April 22 with remorse for all the thkngs that could have been done. As first-world nations, we consume 32 times the per capita the resources of the rest of the world. Yet we (first worlders) represent only 16 percent of the plant’s nine billion human inhabitants. A terrible and unsustainable condition. In 1980, President Reagan removed the solar panels from the White House which President Carter had installed. The coal and oil barons were given a gleeful go-ahead and climate change was given a big boost. Species are endangered or close to extinction. forest resources diminished or destroyed, polar ice caps are melting, science is being demonized and education is being subverted. Sound grim? But 50 years ago, Earth Day brought plans. Plans which were ignored and yet today some of those plans are beginning to take hold. A fact ... everything of energy that we need can be brought to us through solar technology. Fifty years ago, that technology existed but was suppressed. Subsidies for renewable enery were cut back or eliminated. We see this locally in House Bill 6 and the demolition of wind turbines.

And what have we learned from the tragedy of May 4? A tragedy close to home. Innocence in the convictions of youth dashed. When have we not been at war? Wars that were wrong. Benjamin Franklin said, “There is no such thing as a good war or a bad peace.” Those young people protesting a war represented what our country is all about.

We are in the midst of a world crisis. This pandemic is not about us. It is about the world. Politics, lies and subverted power of money are setting us back. It is time we stepped up to our name, homo sapiens. Wise people? We can be better for we are all cousins, no matter what your belief. And this pandemic can bring the world together to solve the problems facing us long after this virus is done.

Ron Yarian


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