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Earth Day Organizer Says Environmental Solutions Are Political, Not Partisan

Kenneth Opat is squirted with oil pistols by Dorothy Goldsmith, left, and Rita Webb, at Tulane University in New Orleans as students tagged Louisiana's oil industry with the "polluter of the month" award, April 22, 1970. The demonstration was part of the
AP file photo
The Associated Press

As Earth Day 2019 arrives, there are dire warnings about climate change. Western Michigan University History Professor David Benac says “the problems are so big, and to be perfectly honest one person can’t solve it, and we have to recognize that.” But Benac says Earth Day in Kalamazoo is an opportunity to organize events around sustainability and activism.

The Earth Day celebration will run from noon until 5:00p.m. Saturday April 20th in Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo. This year organizers are encouraging 101,000 “Acts of Green.” Benac says the number was chosen because there are 101,000 households in Kalamazoo County. He says between this year and Earth Day 2020 they hope to see to have 101,000 organized activities related to conservation and the environment.

Extended interview with David Benac in WMUK's WestSouthwest podcast

Benac says environmental and conservation issues are “political, but not partisan.” He says solutions have to come through policy changes and possibly legislation. But Benac says two Republican presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, had significant records of environmental legislation.

2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. Benac, who teaches Environmental History at WMU, says the 1970’s was the “green decade” which included significant environmental action. Benac Earth Day has roots its in Midwest, and he says the region should embrace ideas such as protecting drinking water, air and public lands.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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