By Kurt Brownell, USAG Italy Environmental Division, DPWApril 5, 2018
VICENZA, Italy - April 22 marks the 48th anniversary of Earth Day. Its purpose, is to encourage social and political action by drawing attention to the environment.
Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. He built upon the American grassroots efforts of that era to bring awareness to environmental issues to a national level such as overuse of resources and pollution.
That year, an estimated 20 million Americans gathered in cities and on college campuses throughout the United States to focus on the degradation of the environment. This sparked a nationwide tidal wave of efforts and initiatives to clean up and protect our fragile environment.
Over the course of the next three years, the Environmental Protection Agency was formed under the Nixon Administration, and a significate expansion of bipartisan environmental legislation was enacted. Since then, legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act has afforded legal protection to, and conservation of, many of the nation's natural resources.
The original April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States; however, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, the original national coordinator in 1970, took the observance international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.
In 1990, a small group of environmental stewards and I, after initiating a worldwide boycott of tuna, were successful in stopping the tuna industry from slaughtering dolphins. The documentary we produced - "Where Have All the Dolphins Gone?" - was shown that day throughout the English-speaking world. The documentary may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY6NHyYqFJw.
How does this apply to the Army mission? The three components of the theme - mission, environment and community - are known as the "triple bottom line." By reducing our environmental footprint through more sustainable practices, we strengthen Army Operations (mission) by minimizing impacts and total ownership costs. This ultimately provides more money for readiness. We enhance the well-being of the community through leadership in sustainability.
All of this helps make the Army a leader in sustainability managing the environment on the 11.4 million acres (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) of Army-managed land.
The Army is always confronting new threats, and the Department of Defense recognizes the threat that climate change poses to readiness. Department of the Army is committed to sensible and measured steps to mitigate the risk on operations posed by such climate change effects as flooding, surging sea levels, severe weather and extreme temperatures.
For example, coastal installations face increasing flooding; extreme heat and dry weather affects such activity as live-fire training (fire risk); and extreme heat can lead to heat-related ailments during physical training.
The Army actively works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through green building initiatives, installation of renewable energy, and working to reduce energy consumption, to name just a few.
As famous journalist Thomas Friedman said, "Pay attention: when the U.S. Army desegregated, the country really desegregated; when the Army goes green, the country could really go green; green is the new red, white and blue."
Sustainability can be viewed as simply a mission enabler, allowing the military to enhance readiness; maximize operational capability; reduce total life cycle costs of Army systems, material, facilities and operations; enhance Soldier quality of life, as well as that for their families and the community.
VICENZA MILITARY COMMUNITY
Vicenza Middle School
April 19, 9-9:30 a.m.
Join elementary and middle school students and Garrison Commander Col. Erik M. Berdy as they plant for the planet to reduce pollution and provide a home for wildlife, and for people, in front of the middle school.
•Environmental informational booths
AAFES Main Exchange
April 20, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Stop by the Army Earth Day booth to meet local environmental subject-matter experts. Get information, ask questions, share comments, collect gizmos and learn how you can help sustain the mission and environment in our everyday lives.
DARBY MILITARY COMMUNITY
•Lesson about geology and threatened/
April 20, 9 a.m.
Stop by the library on Camp Darby to learn about geology of the DMC and threatened/endangered species located inside the Ammunition Storage Area wetlands.