Bursting with spring beauty, LSU celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970.
Like Vietnam Moratorium Day six months before, also held on the Ole War Skule's Parade Grounds, Earth Day changed my worldview.
A freshman carrying out a misguided passive-aggressive protest against my ROTC class and close to losing my student draft deferment, I wandered through the Earth Day exhibits, instantly turning into an environmentalist.
Millions across the globe marked the event, protesting air pollution, species extinction and the destruction of the ozone layer. Climate change was an unknown concept, outside of a few academic research offices.
The Vietnam War still raged, dividing the country. But the environmental movement received nearly universal support, even in the Republican Party. The Environmental Protection Agency was created during the Nixon Administration, and action was taken to preserve the ozone layer.
That momentum waned in succeeding years, and the fossil fuel industry criminally impeded efforts to fight climate change. The world recently has begun action to reduce carbon emissions that should have been taken years ago.
The Biden administration, ambushed by rising gas prices and the Ukrainian invasion, recently retreated from its promises to move toward solar and wind energy. The climate change-denying Republican Party's culture war appears on course to retake the Congress and presidency.
On Earth Day's 52nd anniversary, the Earth is in greater peril than ever.