Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting to the Roots of Earth Day .....

It's hard to believe that it's been forty years since the seed for a worldwide celebration of the Earth and its environment was planted forty years ago, by a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.

According to this post on Wikipedia, "Earth Day, celebrated April 22, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It is held annually during both spring in the northern hemisphere and autumn in the southern hemisphere. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year." That post goes on to report that, responding to what he saw as widespread environmental degradation, Nelson "called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries."

This post from the Earth Day Network notes that Nelson's innaugural "teach-in" was one of several significant events that year, in just about every facet of American society, including "the Kent State shootings, the advent of fiber optics, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Apollo 13, the Beatles' last album, the death of Jimi Hendrix, the birth of Mariah Carey, and the meltdown of fuel rods in the Savannah River nuclear plant near Aiken, South Carolina - an incident not acknowledged for 18 years."

Interesting note on Earth Day's origins, and its designation for April 22nd ... this post at Environmental Graffiti notes, "perhaps the most endearing thing about the holiday is the footnote surrounding the reason Earth Day is on April 22nd: Eddie Albert. Yes, that Eddie Albert: the warden in The Longest Yard, and Oliver on Green Acres. The actor was so active in the early environmental movements that the decision was made when organizing Earth Day that it should be held on his birthday, April 22nd. After this, he proudly spent celebrating the planet, instead of himself, for the rest of his life." Similar claims are made at imdb, and, while wikipedia suggests it's just a coincidence.

Appreciation of Earth Day, and support for its goals is NOT universal ... even among environmentalists. "Make This Earth Day Your Last," write Alex Steffen and Sarah Rich, in this post at, calling for stronger connections, more information and "a dramatic break with the past."


Vincetastic said...

This is a very useful post, thank you for the history lesson. Earth Day should be everyday, it is good that there is at least one day to spread awareness. Here are some suggestions on what you can do to help the Earth:, you can add your own suggestions.

Jeff said...

Vincetastic, thanks for stopping in, and for the kind words. I'll be sure to return the visit.