Happy 43rd

By Jeffery Robichaud

I hope everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the 22nd of April in whatever fashion they saw fit.  The kids and I went for a bike ride Sunday on the new trail along our local stream enjoying the sun and the fresh air.  As much as I had hoped to spend the 22nd outside, this is an incredibly busy week in the office. However, I couldn’t go through Earth Day without doing something, even if it was only a small gesture.

There is a unique website called whatwasthere.com which allows the public to upload pictures taken in the past (a quick screen shot is below).  You can upload photographs and orient them on a map to give the public a sense of now and then.

I uploaded the picture below to the left, which was taken sometime around the first birthday of Earth Day.  It was found in the September, 1971 issue of National Geographic, and depicts a hog carcass floating in the Kansas River.   Over 40 years ago this was typical of waters in metropolitan areas throughout the United States, with poor water quality the norm, and waters that were neither fishable nor swimmable.  Below to the right is a shot of me and my colleagues at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers not too long after Earth Day’s 39th birthday.  We were assisting our partners at Missouri River Relief in cleaning up trash along the banks of the Kansas River.

My contribution this Earth Day are these two photos, a reminder that tremendous progress has been made in the years since our first Earth Day (and the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency), and a reminder that there is still work to do for those of us who care.  If you have shots that chronicle the improvement from our first Earth Day, upload them to whatwasthere.com or share them below.

Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division. He encourages everyone to treat everyday like its Earth Day.