April 21, 2022
While Earth Day is not until tomorrow, it deserves advance notice to plan something special to help protect the environment. Earth Day began as a US event in 1970 and went international in 1990 when it spread to 141 countries. It now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org and includes 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. The annual event on April 22 demonstrates support for environmental protection. The landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the US, the United Kingdom, China, and 120 other countries on Earth Day 2016. Signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.
When I looked online, I found the concept for Earth Day was formed in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. Peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace. This was to be observed on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later, US Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed a nationwide day as an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970 and hired Denis Hayes as National Coordinator. Nelson and Hayes renamed their event “Earth Day”. The event grew beyond the original teach-in to include the entire United States. More than 20 million people poured into the streets on the first Earth Day, making it the largest single-day protest in human history. On Earth Day 2020, over 100 million people around the world observed the 50th anniversary in what is referred to as the largest online mass mobilization in history.
The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet” and features several action options. The Great Global Cleanup is a campaign to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks. Sustainable Fashion refers to the clothing industry being responsible for 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions and calls for a clothing supply chain that is ecologically and socially responsible. Climate and Environmental Literacy is an attempt to create a generation of citizens, workers, students, and leaders ready for climate change, and understanding how to stop it. Canopy Project recognizes forests as home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity and as collectively the second largest storehouse of carbon after the oceans. Food and Environment emphasizes regenerative agriculture where practices such as no till farming and cover cropping reduce erosion and water pollution, while producing healthier soils. If you are interested, see earthday.org for ideas.
THOUGHTS: I learned this week my great niece submitted a picture depicting the effect of trash in our oceans for an Earth Day event sponsored by the Topeka (Kansas) Zoo and won first place in her division (2nd Grade). This gives her a free pass to the Zoo on the 22nd, and a lifetime of memories for activism. Raising generations of children with climate and environmental literacy is imperative if we are to be successful in saving our planet. Raising generations of children with social and cultural sensitivity is imperative if we are to be successful in creating unity. This is not either/or, it is both/and. Act for others. Change is coming and it starts with you.