Monday, April 20, 2009
Earth Day Turns 39
Written by Anya
Earth Day turns 39 this year. The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 and estimates are that 20 million Americans participated. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin is generally credited as being the principal founder of Earth Day.
Later, Senator Nelson related that the idea “…for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political ‘limelight’ once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.” It would take several more years for Senator Nelson’s inspiration to see fruition. In the late 1960’s, he would tap into rising political participation on college campuses and grassroots networks to finally organize the first Earth Day.
Today, Earth Day is celebrated not only in the United States, but internationally. In 2008, events were held in Argentina, Bulgaria, Nigeria and Russia, to name just a few countries. Estimates are that upwards of half a billion people participated in Earth Day activities in some fashion. Senator Nelson strongly believed in harnessing the power of education to further environmental goals. It is rewarding to see how the concept of Earth Day has been adopted by many schools as an opportunity to educate young people about the environment and our role in protecting it.
There is no doubt that citizens have a variety of opinions on issues such as climate change, Artic drilling and the benefits of nuclear energy. We should not let these differences define us, however. Almost everyone agrees that being good stewards of our planet is not only important to our childrens’ future, but the morally correct thing to do. Earth Day is a wonderful way to recognize the effect we humans have on the planet and to share ideas for greener ways of living, but it shouldn’t be restricted to once every 365 days.
Will you or your family celebrate Earth Day in any way? Is your child’s school planning any events? What are you doing on a daily basis to live greener? We would love for you to share your tips.
Posted by Nina Bell at 5:00 PM