RISE to the Occasion
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” —Jane Goodall
Our current pandemic reality is providing the opportunity to examine our lives, relationships and actions in a new way – from a distance, from a broader perspective. Now is the time to recognize our impacts and our interconnectedness. It’s time to make our voices heard.
December of 1968 brought us our first EarthRise photo and a whole new perspective of Earth and our place in the world. Six months later the first man walked on the moon. We as a nation and as a people, celebrated Earth from a new place and with a broader perspective.
On April 22, 1970 we came together to create the first Earth Day, with Climate Change the focal topic of 2020 Earth Day events we once again have the opportunity to collectively call ourselves to action: “To build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet.”
“Earth Day Network’s mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet.”
THE STORY OF EARTH DAY
Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, originally published in 1962, brought broad awareness about man-made pesticides and their effects on nature. From this awareness the modern environmental movement arose.
In 1963, Senator Gaylord Nelson joined President John F. Kennedy on an “Earth Tour” raising awareness about environmental issues, we as a nation, were beginning to discover.
Over the next few years Sierra Club’s membership doubled and Lyndon B. Johnson signed new bills bringing ecological awareness into Government Policy.
The Union Oil, Platform A, spill in 1969 gave the movement momentum to insist on environmental regulation from the Federal Government. Six miles from Santa Barbara, CA oil flowed from the ocean floor at a rate of 9000 gallons per hour for weeks. It laid a 35 mile tarry-slick on top of the sea water.
After a visit to the oil stained beaches Senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired to create Earth Day. Sensing the need for a unified environmental movement and platform, Nelson later said that he envisioned a public demonstration “so big it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and force the environmental issue onto the national political agenda”.
The concept was announced in Seattle a month later: According to Nelson, “the wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes and air—and they did so with spectacular exuberance.”
The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. On that day over 20 million Americans participated in rallies, marches and educational programs across the country.
Image credit: NYC Municipal Archives
In the words of historian Adam Rome, “When April came, the rallying cry of Earth Day solidified a rag-tag coalition of liberal Democrats, middle-class women, youth activists, conservationists and scientists.”
Earth Day activated social and political change in the United States. It birthed countless environmental organizations around the country and resulted in the creation of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
In 1990, Earth Day co-creator, Denis Hayes, helped to organize Earth Day as a global event including more than 200 million people and more than 140 countries. Since then, the event has been international in scope and instrumental in bringing awareness to Global Warming and the ever increasing need for Renewable Energies.
Almost 50 years later we have taken many small steps and some big steps moving us forward to this moment in time.
Let’s find common ground and make our impacts together, moving towards a place, a planet, a home we deserve.
Earth Day's 50th Anniversary April 22, 2020
Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day. It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.
“The Earth is a fine place and worth fighting for.”—Ernest Hemingway
For more actions you can take for Earth Day 2020, check these out: