Earth Day 2015

"Small Blue Marble" as Seen from the Apollo 17 Mission

“Small Blue Marble” as Seen from the Apollo 17 Mission

 Earth Day Facts and History

Earth Day marks its 45th Anniversary in 2015.  What began in the USA on March 22, 1970 as an environmental education initiative, supported by Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.) and Congressman Paul McCloskey (R-Calif.), is now celebrated in nearly 200 countries around the world.  In many places it has expanded to Earth Week and has been linked to the first day of spring.

That first Earth Day was filled with peaceful protests and environmental theater.   Among the first Earth Day events:

  • The Department of Interior in Washington D.C. received a gift of oil-coated ducks, demonstrating the hazards of oil drilling in the oceans and waterways of the country
  • A group of protesters, yelling “This could be you!”, dragged a net full of dead fish down Fifth Avenue in New York City, tying the loss of ocean fisheries to the loss of humanity.
  • One protester dressed as the Grim Reaper haunted a stockholder’s meeting at General Electric linking the industrial giant to environmental degradation.

Around 20 million people participated in one way or another.

The first Earth Day came only a couple of months after President Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act and was instrumental in bringing environmental issues to the forefront of national politics for decades.  It also heralded the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency to bring administrative focus on these issues.

Earth Day Events and Activities

While Earth Day is officially April 22, associated events occur over a week.  Some of the worldwide events planned for this year include:

April 18: Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day at the Washington Monument grounds in Washington, D.C.

April 18: The Hague, Netherlands, a fair with environmental non-profits and eco-vendors, soil, gardening and “art from scrap” workshops, lectures on the state of our oceans, sustainable design, micro-credit and the importance of Fair Trade products, an art exhibition, organic and fair trade food, musical performances and more.

April 18 – 23: Tamil Nadu, India, activities with the theme “Clean Earth – Green Earth.”

April 22: Osijek, Coatia – The Case for Zero Waste – main town square.

April 22: Seeheim- Jugenheim, Germany at Schuldorf Bergstrasse, sales and games stalls, garbage collection campaigns, tree planting, and Earth Day movies

April 22: The Great Wall, west of Jiankou, China, litter collection

April 22: Ponce, Puerto Rico at the Urban Ecological Park, with a concert, education, free trees and more.

April 24 – 25: Analalava, Madagascar, a carnival, flash mob, speeches, food, environmental movies and beach clean-up.

Most communities in the U.S. have an event of some sort associated with Earth Day.  Check your local newspaper for the details.

Earth Day Crafts

For many,  the lessons of Earth Day are taught through arts and crafts.   In many cases these objects are created from waste materials to highlight the possibilities of recycling.   Beyond pure art, some Earth Day crafts have practical uses in benefit to the environment.  These include things like:

  • Bird Houses
  • Bird Feeders
  • Terraria
  • Musical Instruments
  • and even camp stoves

Whether they recycle materials into art or new uses, Earth Day crafts can teach kids and adults ways to better use the gifts of nature.

Earth Day Quotes

People through time have continually addressed the natural world and the place of humans in it in pithy and thought provoking ways.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • “We have met the enemy and he is us.” — Walt Kelly, cartoonist, via Pogo in the Pogo Comic Strip
  • “The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it.” — Barry Commoner, ecologist
  • “The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun.” — Ralph Nader, environmental activist
  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead, anthopologist
  • “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.” — Senator Gaylord Nelson
  • “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.  We are all crew.”   — Marshall McLuhan, philosopher

Earth Day Books

Many people are looking for Earth Days books.  Here are a few that address this need from the historical and environmental points of view:

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.  This book, more than any other, brought the hazards of pesticides to the public consciousness.

The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms by Clare Walker Leslie. This book offers creative exercises that will help you help kids from 8 to 13 learn how to connect with nature.

The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation by Adam Rome. Rome offers a compelling account of the rise of the environmental movement.

When Rivers Burned: The Earth Day Story (Once, in America) by Linda Crotta Brennan and Lisa Greenleaf . The Earth was dying. Senator Gaylord Nelson believed that attitudes about ecology could change if people understood what was happening. Earth Day began.

For little kids:

It’s Earth Day! (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer. How Little Critter helps slow down global warming.

Earth Day–Hooray! (MathStart 3) by Stuart J. Murphy. Can three kids find and collect 5,000 aluminum cans so they can redeem them and buy flowers for the local park?

Biscuit’s Earth Day Celebration by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. How Biscuit, the dog, celebrates Earth Day.

We Have Met the Enemy.

Poster from Earth Day 1970

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