Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Dr. Peter Kolb is a highly respected forest scientist and professor with the University of Montana School of Forestry and MSU Extension, and was glad to speak with me on Monday about the fact that April 22 is Earth Day.

This Year's Earth Day Theme is 'Planet vs. Plastics'

“This year's (Earth Day) theme is ‘Planet vs. Plastics’, and it's the 55th anniversary of Earth Day,” began Dr. Kolb. “The first officially celebrated day was in 1970, which was sponsored by Governor of Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson. Incidentally, it is quite interesting that it was also strongly supported by the United Auto Workers of the United States; not exactly the groups that you would always associate with something like environmentalism.”

Dr. Kolb looked back on the era of the 1970’s that introduced quite a few environmental issues.

Dr. Kolb said in the 1970's the Environment was King

“We might remember the 1970’s, when Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Enviromental Policy Act that actually created the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). A lot of the focus was on toxic pollution back then. Traditionally, Earth Day is about planting trees because one of the themes of Earth Day was deforestation some 40 years ago, and of course, forests are something that everybody's concerned about these days.”

One of the innovations that began in the 1970’s was organic gardening, Dr. Kolb explained.

“Between 2011 and 2019 organic farms have increased by 56 percent, which sounds great, but organic farming has a lot less productivity,” he said. “So, for that reason organic farming now takes up less than 1 percent of the acreage of farmland in the United States.”

Read More: Understanding the Decline and Fall of Montana’s Timber Empire

Dr. Kolb is Concerned about Politics and the Environment

With his extensive interest in forestry and the environment, Dr. Kolb said he was glad to remind the public about the importance of Earth Day.

“I of course have been involved with the forestry controversies for the last 40 plus years,” he said. “There are always issues about logging and cutting down trees while we're sitting on wooden chairs and using paper napkins. So today (Earth Day) is an absolute testament to people's ability to think about the future and think about what we're doing. But it also is an extreme challenge to keep it real within our society as what truly is environmentally friendly as opposed to what just sounds good and is there for political reasons.”

Click here for more details about Earth Day.

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