06/10/2010 09:37 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Earth Day 2050

As we all know, this week marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Forty years from now, if I am blessed to still be on this earth, I will rejoice and celebrate the 80th anniversary of Earth Day with gratitude filling my heart.

I can see that day in my mind's eye.

I can imagine taking a deep slow breath, giving thanks for Mother Nature's incredibly magical way that She heals herself. Saying 'thank you' out loud to all of the people who worked tirelessly to ensure that we stopped burning coal and oil decades prior to that day, so that our air could replenish itself and begin to once again blow free and clean.

I can imagine sipping a tall, cool, clear glass of water straight from the tap, conjuring up images of protests, marches and rallies that gathered countless numbers around this nation, who raised their voices that echoed through the hallways of Capitol Hill so that our elected officials had to heed our cry of "No More Coal." And when we stopped that barbaric way of garnering energy, we ceased the destruction of our glorious mountains, the pollution of our waterways and the poisoning of our fish.

I can imagine taking a long walking journey throughout a magnificent forest in the Appalachian Mountain Range, soaking in the beauty and the sounds. I would picture the extraordinary brave men and women who stood up to the coal industry, right there in West Virginia, risking their lives on a daily basis until mountaintop removal coal mining was forever stopped. I could see them and their children (and all people of West Virginia) living longer, healthier and more productive lives. And I could see in the distance that unmistakable and powerful image of a wind farm. I would watch the blades turn rapidly and remember what it was like when I was 5 years old, running through a meadow with one of those mini plastic wind wheels spinning in my upraised hand.

I can imagine smiling, as I reflect on the extraordinary people who were tireless leaders on the issue of climate change. How they spent the majority of their time educating, inspiring and calling to action their fellow citizens. I would pause and feel deep admiration for them, thinking of the daily battles that they endured, often times from a handful of disbelievers and slick tongued naysayers...those tellers of untruths whose pockets were deeply lined from the dirty fossil fuel industries, and who had no regard for how their actions impacted humankind. But the brave environmental warriors stood strong and fierce amidst those who did not want to change their habits, addictions and greed.

And it is with deep content and respect for those warriors, and for all who risked everything for the betterment of mankind, Mother Earth and Father Sky, when I will close my eyes at the end of that day of celebration and dream of what lies ahead in the heavens.

Gloria Reuben is a nationally known environmental activist and a special
advisor to The Alliance for Climate Protection.

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