Earth Day, April 22 - InfoBarrel

Founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22 of each
year. Senator Nelson had originally become increasingly worried by the legislative priorities given to
the environment, and in 1962 approached President John F. Kennedy about going on a conservation
tour. President Kennedy was convinced, and in September, 1963, went on a five-day, eleven-state
speaking tour, but ultimately was unable to raise legislative support for conservation. Senator
Nelson continued to work on raising environmental awareness over the next six years, but at last,
horrified by the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, Senator Nelson wrote:
I am convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation
that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically. To
marshal such an effort, I am proposing a national teach-in on the crisis of the environment to be held
next spring on every university campus across the Nation. The crisis is so imminent, in my opinion,
that every university should set aside 1 day in the school year-the same day across the Nation-for the
teach-in.
Senator Nelson's office organized the first Earth Day, involving mostly schools, from elementary
schools to universities. (I remember that first Earth Day celebration in my own school!) The first
year, approximately twenty million Americans celebrated Earth Day, and it has become more
popular with each passing year. Indeed, that date is often thought of as the beginning of the modern
environmental movement. By Earth Day 1990, public pressure from 200 million people in 141
countries began the modern recycling movement. By the year 2000, Earth Day organizers had begun
to use the Internet to organize hundreds of millions of people in 184 countries around the world. In
2007, it is estimated that over a billion people were involved in Earth Day activities.
Senator Gaylord Nelson
Credit: Public Domain
The Impact of Earth Day
In 1993, American Heritage Magazine called
Earth Day "one of the most remarkable
happenings in the history of democracy."
Earth Day, as the beginning of public
education about the environment, has
blossomed into concern for numerous areas of
concern that in 1970 were almost unheard-of.
Some of those areas include:
 Today, ordinary people all over the world
are growing up to be more concerned with
the state of the planet: the fertility of the soil, the balance of nature, the cleanness of the air, the
purity of the water, and most recently the state of the oceans. As someone who was born in the
1950s, the changes that have been made in societal consciousness during my short lifetime, thanks
to the observance of Earth Day are truly remarkable. And while many still believe that nothing
people can do will have any real effect, science has proven otherwise, in many different areas of the
world. DuPont's slogan of "better living through chemistry" is as outdated today as a Packard
automobile.
Credit: public domain
How to Observe Earth Day
What can you do to celebrate Earth Day? Chances are, you're already celebrating Earth Day in your
daily life, through all the changes that have been made to societies around the world as a result of
the environmental movement. But just in case you really have been living under a rock for some
time, here's just a few ideas of the hundreds that people have come up with:
Do without water for one day
Do without electricity for one day
Plant a garden
Plant some native grasses, shrubs or trees to increase your neighbourhood's biodiversity
Plant a tree to reduce your carbon footprint
Walk, take public transportation, or bicycle to work for one day
Go a whole day without throwing anything away
Borrow a book, CD, or DVD from the library instead of buying it
Hold a recycling day
Take reusable bags for all your shopping on one day
Switch one non-environmentally-friendly resource for an environmentally-friendly one (for example,
switching from single-use to rechargeable batteries, or switching from a traditional dry cleaner to an
eco-friendly one.
Don't use chemical household cleaning products for one day: instead, use chalk, baking soda,
vinegar, or other natural substances to clean.
Cook locally-grown food at home, maybe even in a solar oven.
Get a solar-powered charger for one electronic appliance.
Check your tire pressure to make sure your tires are inflated properly (cuts down on pollution and
gasoline use)
Educate yourself about one aspect of the environment
Go without meat for one day
If you can't do any of these, perhaps you can come up with your own ideas. You can also do crafts to
use yard waste, or find something you were going to throw away and instead, use it in another way.
The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In
Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 31, 2014)
An inspiring look at the history of Earth Day, and how the vision of one senator started an entire
movement.
The impact Earth Day has had on the people of the entire world has been immeasurable, and has
resulted not only in sweeping changes in private industry and public awareness and habits, but also
in astonishing changes in governmental action worldwide. Now, even the poorest countries are
working to preserve their natural resources, restore habitats for sustainability, create a healthy
living environment for their populations, and we are seeing a new era of cooperation between
countries that one could not have imagined in the 1950s, before Earth Day.
Indeed, Earth Day has begotten a number of imitators, as community organizers and grassroots
movements have learned from its success. With such an example before us, we can only imagine
what a similar movement might do today. The possibilities for community action of this sort are
endless. If for no other reason, even if you are not an environmentalist, you might do well to
celebrate Earth Day as a reminder of what can happen in a very short time when people care and
are educated about an issue, are ready to act together for change, and can coordinate their
resources and actions. So get out there on April 22nd each year, and let people know that you are
aware of the power of grassroots movements.
TED Talk: Put a Value on Nature
TED Talk: Earth's Mass Extinctions

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