Today is Earth Day … the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, to be exact. Typically, Earth Day is assigned a different theme or area of focus each year; last year’s theme was “Restore Our Earth” and this year’s theme is, appropriately, “Invest in Our Planet”. This short clip is from last year, but I loved it and so am sharing it again this year.
I am always surprised by people who say, “Yeah, so???” Or those who say “What the heck is Earth Day?” Or worse yet, those who say it isn’t their problem. Each generation has contributed to the damage that is threatening our very survival, each generation multiplying that damage as technological ‘advances’ come along, many of which only exacerbate the problems. Modern day jets, oil & gas pipelines, bovine-sized SUVs, food waste, plastic wrappers & containers … all these and more are fairly ensuring that within a few short decades, the planet will no longer be able to support 7+ billion humans, not to mention the plants, animals and insects that were here long before humans.
In part, we need better education about our environment and how to care for it. But of late, climate change has become a political football with some claiming that it’s a “hoax”, others who are connected to the fossil fuel industries more concerned with their own profits than life on Earth, and still others listening to false claims by the likes of right-wing media and politicians. None of which is helpful in the least bit — if we are to save this planet for life as we know it today, we must be united, everyone working together to clean up our acts!
So, please bear with me while I explain very briefly.
History – In The Beginning
The concept for Earth Day was conceived in the mind of then-Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Nelson recruited help from Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey and others, and on April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
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. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had 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.
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.
From Then To Now
Through the years, Earth Day has focused largely on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.Earth Day 2010 saw new challenges: Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism. Still, some 250,000 people showed up at the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.
No, this is not a picture from Ukraine, but rather a landfill in New York City taken prior to 2001, obviously, for you can see the Twin Towers in the background.
Under the previous administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was nearly decimated and environmental regulations rolled back or reversed. For the four years between 2017-2021, the United States has stood alone among all nations in eschewing the science of global climate change. However, thankfully, the Biden administration understands the critical need to address the multiple issues that are destroying our planet and we are, once again, an active player in the fight against climate change and other environmental issues. I believe that the vast majority of people in this nation do understand how critical our environment and our stewardship of the planet earth is. Unfortunately, the pandemic and the Russian attacks on Ukraine have caused problems we couldn’t have foreseen and slowed down our progress on environmental issues. We simply must get back on track, and soon! Read the latest IPCC report … we are quickly running out of time!
People today are so worried about the cost of fuel for their gas-guzzling vehicles, but they should be far more concerned about what the drilling, piping, and burning of that fuel is doing to our planet! Far worse damage occurs daily than is occurring to your wallet!
What can YOU do?
You may think that there isn’t much you, personally, can do to help restore our earth, but you’d be wrong. Each and every one of us can do a few simple things to help and little things add up to big things, as we all know. Here are a few ideas from the Old Farmer’s Almanac …
1. SUPPORT OUR POLLINATORS!
Bring native bees and other pollinating creatures to your garden. One way to do this is by selecting the right plants. Need ideas?
2. CLEAN UP PLASTIC IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR LOCAL PARK
One of the best ways to connect with the Earth is through cleanups! Go on a walk with a trash bag and help to clean up any plastic that you find. Perhaps you know of a nearby ditch that is polluted with trash that needs a spring cleaning! You’ll start to realize that plastic permeates every aspect of our lives. But as the world wakes up to its addiction, just how easy is it to ditch plastic while growing and storing more of our own food? Don’t forget to recycle what plastic you can. See a Plastics Recycling Chart.
3. SWAP OUT YOUR KITCHEN AND HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS!
Let’s talk about the cooking and cleaning products that touch the food we eat as well as our skin. This year, we’ve discovered a line of kitchen and household products called “If You Care.” Everything’s biodegradable and does not use chemicals or plastic. Think 100% recycled aluminum foil, chemical-free parchment paper for baking, compostable bags made with potato starch, and even vegetable-based inks for their packaging. We love company’s motto: “We care simply because it’s the right thing to do!” You can find If You Care products online and in stores. See the store locator.
For more ideas, visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
And just a few other resources, if you’re interested:
And just for fun (and to test your knowledge) … a quiz!
This is a post about Earth Day, but more to the point it is a post about the need for Earth Day. It isn’t just about one day a year, about marches and articles such as this one, but it is about awareness. The entire purpose of Earth Day is to raise awareness, to stir people to take action. Climate deniers will continue to deny the need to protect our environment, not because they are as stupid as they seem, but rather because they are as greedy as they seem. But there is much that each and every one of us can do with very little effort. Recycle, pick up trash when you see it on the streets or in your local parks, plant a tree, plant flowers to encourage pollination, turn the thermostat down, conserve water, reduce food waste, turn off lights, consolidate errands and trips in the car, walk more/drive less, take the bus … use some common sense and be a good steward of the planet. And meanwhile, keep petitioning your elected officials at local, state and federal levels … let them know that a healthy environment is more important to you than the profits of the fossil fuel and other industries. Please … my life and yours are at stake, but more importantly our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are at stake.
Happy Earth Day, my friends! Why not celebrate by planting a sapling or a few flowers in the back yard?
Note to readers: Some of this post is a repeat of last year’s Earth Day post, but I have also added new content and resources relevant to 2022 and the celebration of Earth Day.