Baker’s Dozen – Earth Day

Earth Day was yesterday and as I was reading about the history of Earth Day, I realized that it was a product of the 70s.  Why was this important to me?

I am a child of the 70s.  That is, I attended high school and college in this decade.  I have memories of the horrible smog in the large cities and the rivers filled with toxic waste.  While we have a long way to go, things have improved.  The first Earth Day resulted in bringing these issues to the forefront with laws and regulations being enacted to protect our environment.

I remember the “birth” of the environmental movement, and people who saw the future by trying to capitalize on it with the development of eco-friendly products and services.  Our daughter will be graduating from college in a few weeks with a degree in Environmental Engineering – a newer degree field.  She’ll be working in the mining industry, and she already has a passion for her work.

I think it is one of our responsibilities as citizens of this world to keep it well, to preserve it, and to make it better for future generations.  Unfortunately, I think actions to protect our Earth have become another one of the many victims in our current polarized and negative political environment.

But, I hope everyone agrees that we want to keep the Earth well for our children and our children’s children and for everyone else, too.  I hope you enjoy the following list on the history of Earth Day.

My Earth Day Baker’s Dozen:

1)  Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970.

2)  Earth Day was the brainchild of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and was structured as an environmental teach-in.

Gaylord Nelson, 1916-2005, picture from Wikipedia.

3)  Nelson’s environmental teach-in was modeled after the highly effective Vietnam War teach-ins of the 1970s.

4)  Nelson was an environmentalist and conservationist who came up with the idea of Earth Day after witnessing the environmental horrors resulting from the massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969.

5)  Nelson intentionally targeted colleges, high schools, and community organizations due to his failure to generate interest to make change in Washington.

6)  Since Nelson was targeting college students and others, he intentionally chose April 22 to avoid conflicts with Spring Breaks, Easter, and finals.  Conspiracy theorists considered this to be a Communist trick since it turned out to be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lenin.

7)  The first Earth Day was considered very successful with some citing statistics that say 1 in 10 or 20 million Americans participated.

8)  The success of the first Earth Day was also measured politically.  In the Fall of 1970, the electorate voted several incumbents with poor environmental records out of office.

9)  The 1970s became known as the “Environmental Decade,” with more than 28 reforms being passed including the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act among others.

10)  The first Earth Day is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.

11)  Nelson did not intend for Earth Day to become an annual event.  His goal was to get attention for protecting the environment in Washington, and he felt that he had been successful in achieving that goal.

12)  Since 1970, Earth Day has remained an important way to raise awareness for environmental issues.

13)  Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.

Our garden.  We actively recycle, work on having an energy-efficient home and lifestyle, and try to be good citizens of the Earth.

Information for this post came from www.earthday.org, www.nelsonearthday.net/earth-day/, www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/22/earth-day-2012-successes, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day.

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