April 22, 2019
Earth Day is a day people worldwide engage in conversation and action about protecting the planet. However, it seems that every company even remotely close to the environmental space, and some that are not, is getting on the bandwagon with some kind of Earth Day special product or Earth Day promotion. Good for business? Maybe. But should we be celebrating Earth Day by buying stuff or by taking action to better the, well, Earth? At Eco News Network we’d like to check back in with the origin of Earth Day and the focus of this year’s Earth Day campaign – Protect our Species. Maybe more than ever we need to put the energy where it was originally intended – to protect the environment – on Earth Day Every Day.
A Little Earth Day History
During the 1960s, a environmentalists and scientists voiced a concern for the problems of the planet. Pesticides at the time were a huge problem along with air and water pollution that the public accepted as the normal price of progress.
The publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962 was a catalyst for the environmental movement. The book sold more than 500,000 copies and raised public awareness and concern for the health of the environment.
Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson had been mounting pressure on government officials to pay more attention to the issues facing the environment after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. He even convinced President Kennedy to go on a conservation tour. President Kennedy became vocal on environmental issues however this was not enough to create real action.
Nelson observed the power of the war protests at many college campuses across the US and he wanted to enact the same type of passion but for the environment. To accomplish that, Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” and convinced Pete McCloskey, a conservation Republican Congressman, to serve as co-chair. The two also recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator.
On April 22, 1970 and the first Earth Day was launched with the support of 20 million participants and thousands of communities and schools, as well as rallies and demonstrations nationwide for a healthy sustainable environment. In 1990, Earth Day went global with the help of Hayes and over 200 million people in 141 countries and environmental issues became front and center on the world stage.
Earth Day 2019
Earth Day Network, the organization that leads Earth Day worldwide, has designated the Earth Day 2019 campaign, Protect Our Species.
Working in partnership with thousands of organizations, the campaign identifies 2019 as a crucial year to advance and protect laws, policies, regulations, and international cooperation agreements for species protection from threatened rollbacks. Protecting the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are top priorities. EDN’s campaign also embraces the concept that nature has value in and of itself.
Today’s world is facing the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago. But unlike the fate of the dinosaurs, the rapid extinction of species in our world today is the result of human activity.
The theme of Earth Day 2019 grew out of the recognition that human activities (climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, trafficking and poaching, unsustainable agriculture, pollution, and pesticides) are the leading causes of what Elizabeth Kolbert calls the Sixth Extinction.
Studies estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. Insect populations have decreased by more than 45% worldwide; 40% of the world’s bird species are in decline; beekeepers report annual hive losses of 30% or higher, and the list goes on.
Many species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our eco-systems and our planet. The loss is so great that the welfare and future of the human species are threatened.
“The good news is that the rate of extinctions can still be slowed, and many of our declining, threatened, and endangered species can still recover if we work together now to build a united global movement of consumers, voters, educators, faith leaders, and scientists to demand immediate action,” says Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network.
How will you recognize Earth Day?
More than 1 billion people in nearly 200 countries worldwide participate in Earth Day activities. We still protest around environmental issues, but we also celebrate by planting trees, making pledges, and becoming informed about what we can do to help save our earth. You can learn even more about the history and upcoming Earth Day events at www.earthday.org.
So how are you celebrating Earth Day? By shopping the Earth Day promos? Or, will you initiate a recycling drive? Plant trees or flowers? Participate in a community forum about local environmental issues and initiatives? Join in a demonstration? Sit peacefully in nature taking in the reason for all of the hoopla in the first place?
Whatever your plans to celebrate Earth Day today, the Eco News Network team encourages you to do your small part to raise awareness for the importance of protecting our precious earth every day, not just on Earth Day.
Photo Credit: First Earth Day in NYC – Courtesy of Earthday.org