What is Earth Day?
Earth Day has become one of the most widely celebrated environmental events across the globe. On this day, events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. Currently it is celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. It was originally celebrated at Spring Equinox around 21 March every day but now the United Nations has designated 22 April as the International Mother Earth Day. Earth Day Network coordinates this annual day across the globe.
Earth Day is all about appreciating the uniqueness of our planet Earth with its incredible biodiversity. On this day various national and international activities are conducted to understand the biodiversity and how should we protect our nature – plants, animals and environment.
Today, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with numerous partners and communities in more than 192 countries to raise the environmental concerns and diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. Apart from this, large number of communities celebrate Earth Week and create awareness among other people regarding environment issues.
As per Wikipedia,
“Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.”
Earth Day Network promotes various ideas to increase awareness among people. Some of them include convincing people to buy green products, focus on the concept of Reduce, Recycle and Reuse, pledging friends and family to fight against global warming.
The earth day movement last from a day to over couple of weeks where numerous actions are taken to clean up the environment such as planting trees and saplings, collecting and removing garbage, imparting environmental education to others to understand the effects of climate change, cleaning of roads and parks, signing petitions, showing movies and many more.
Various Earth Day Facts
- Earth Day Flag is called Ecology Flag. It was created by cartoonist Ron Cobb and was first published in the Los Angeles Free Press on 7 November 1969. The Ecology symbol resembles Greek letter theta and is a combination of the letters “E” and “O” taken from the words “Environment” and “Organism,” respectively. The flag consists of thirteen alternating-green-and-whites stripes with symbol on the left hand side.
- Earth Day Anthem is a universal song associated with Earth Day. Its lyrics are set to the tone of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody on which the official anthem of the European Union is based.
“Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment
Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world.”
- Earth Day became an international event on 21 March 1971, when UN’s Secretary-General U Thant spoke about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony at the United Nations in New York City. Since then, the United Nations Earth Day ceremony continues each year on the day of the vernal equinox (March 20th or 21st), with the ringing of the UN Peace Bell at the very moment of the equinox.
- More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day of United States that took place on 22 April 1970. This huge turnout made the first Earth Day as the largest organized celebration in the history of the United States. The success of Earth Day helped to influence the United States’ government to create stronger laws to protect the environment.
- Earth Day Network, the organization behind the Earth Day movement, works with over 22000 partners in more than 192 countries worldwide to raise environmental concerns. Today more than 1 billion people participate in earth day activities each year to make it one of the most largest movement on earth.
- Earth Day 2000 combined ambitious spirit of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. This was the year when Earth Day used Internet to expand its reach and organize activists across several continents. The message was loud and clear and it proved invaluable domestically and internationally.
- In year 2009, United Nations officially renamed Earth Day as International Mother Earth Day.
- On Earth Day 2012, more than 100,000 people rode bikes in China to reduce CO2 emissions and save fuel.
- Every year on April 22, men, women, children, groups and communities all around the world gather together and put all their efforts to collect garbage, plant saplings, encourage people to go for recycling, sign petitions and discuss issues to save this planet from depleting resources.
- In few places, earth day is celebrated throughout the week to expand its reach so that more people take part and put their efforts to preserve the environment.
Earth Day Significance
Earth Day is a day dedicated to increasing awareness about the Earth, its issues and problems. Today, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. As a result of this remarkable event, various policy agreements and acts are sanctioned such as Clear Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many others.
Earth Day has gained significant significance in the past. This is due to the fact that people have been witnessing shortage of food, sky rocketing fuel prices, increased global warming and changing weather patterns. It is a day that acknowledges the importance of our planet. People come to know about the contemporary environment issues such as global warming, depleting resources etc. Both adults and kids become conscious about the strategies and tactics which they can adopt in day-to-day life to ensure cleaner environments.
Various suggestions are brought to light about recycling, energy conservation, increasing plant and tree growth, save water, respect nature, reduce toxins in the air, keep the environment clean, reduce air pollution, planting trees and flowers to increase oxygen and love and respect towards all animals who inhabit the earth. There are small ideas with huge impact such as – plant a tree every year, switch off light when not in use, use recyclable bags for grocery shopping etc. presented during Earth Day celebrations.
Apart from the individual households, even companies are encouraging their employees to contribute their part when it comes to save this planet from degradation. Making use of public transportation, car pooling to reduce pollution, switching off AC after office hours, motivating people to take less print outs, using renewable sources to generate power, allowing employees to engage in tele or video conferencing, using CFL lights and bulbs, extracting geothermal energy to heat up office buildings are few of the initiatives companies are taking to save energy and make this planet safe for our future generations.
On transportation side, companies are now manufacturing and selling hybrid and electric cars that do not make use of petrol or diesel to run. New technologies are coming in which are making these cars at par to that of cars running on petrol and diesel.
If people implement some of these and make changes in their behaviors towards Mother Earth, then we would be able to make our planet a much better place to live in – also for coming generations.
References: Earth Day
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Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.
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Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.
Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. 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 would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.
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 and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.
Earth Day Today
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. 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.
Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. 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. Despite these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a relevant, powerful focal point. Earth Day Network brought 250,000 people to 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.
Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.
Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more chapters—struggles and victories—into the Earth Day book.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism. Learn more here.