Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day beginings



   At the height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States 1960's, student protests was the normal order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. In 1962 Gaylord Nelson , then Governor of Wisconsin, uncovered the seed of an idea which sparked a regrowth of earthly life. By 1969 this was further inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it could force environmental protection into the national political arena.

After much thought and discussion, Earth Day was formed by Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, on April 22, 1970.  The first Earth Day was an attempt to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution. This knowledge has brought about a better understanding of the affect we have on our planet, and calling us to take action to make positive environmental changes in our community.



  Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
"It was a gamble," Gaylord Nelson sited, "but it worked." That seed has continued to grow and nurture Mother Earth.


   The first Earth Day was attended by 20 million Americans nationwide,from college campuses to town halls, and giant teach-ins were organized in New York City and Philadelphia, the latter event turning into a seven-day event known as Earth Week. Earth Day was originally focused on the United States but was promoted as an international event in 1990. Today, Earth Day is coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated in more than 175 countries making it one of the most-attended organizational activities ever created, even being called “the largest secular holiday in the world” by EDN


  This small attempt to start something of this scale on the national level brought millions of people to band together in their neighborhoods, starting grassroots campaigns to help revolutionize the way we handled waste, recycling, power consumption, and conservation in general. That event set a powerful precedent for the rest of the world, hopefully to continue to help keep Mother Earth healthy for generations.

 
      Senator Gaylord Nelson 
      over looking the St. Croix river

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States, for his role as Earth Day founder. Senator Nelson chose April 22 as the date, in order to encourage maximum participation on college campuses around the US. The day normally does not fall during exams and does not conflict with spring breaks. It also rarely interferes with religious holidays such as Passover or Easter, this year being a rare exception. In 2009, the United Nations designated the same date, April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day, Mother Earth!


 How are you celebrating Earth Day?

images found on Earth Day and G.Nelson internet sources

1 comment:

  1. As a child of dedicated Greenies, I remember the first Earth Day well. And I recycle, repurpose and reuse like a fiend.

    ReplyDelete

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