Today, April 22, is Earth Day. The day on which our Instagram feed is filled with images of the best sunsets, hikes, and waterfalls that we keep in our camera rolls. The day where we choose to eat vegan and bike to work. The day we all try our very best to be kinder to the earth. We might choose to donate to local organizations and nonprofits to learn more about what you can do as an individual to reduce your carbon footprint and be more educated on global environmental issues and climate change. While yes, it is totally fine and encouraged to take a moment and reflect on the best parts of our world and enjoy the simple beauty on our planet. Just as it encourages that we should also take the time to learn how we can all be more sustainable and the history of the day.
The first earth day happened in 1970 to make a louder stance on the issues and destruction of the environment that was being done by humans. However, we all owe it to one woman, in particular, Rachel Carson, an environmental activist from the 1960s. Her book Silent Spring published in 1962, “warned of the dangers to all-natural systems from the misuse of chemical pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and questioned the scope and direction of modern science, initiating the contemporary environmental movement.”
Carson, born in Pennsylvania, was a marine biologist and wrote her first book in 1961 called, The Sea Around Us, but got involved with the government and environmental problems during the Second World War. “Carson reluctantly spoke out not just about the immediate threat to humans and non-human nature from unwitting chemical exposure, but also to question government and private science’s assumption that human domination of nature was the correct course for the future.” (Carson)
Earth Day began as a regular anti-war movement protest in late April, but Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, also intrigued by the works of Carson and the destruction of the environment done by the US government, wanted to do something about it. “Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution.” (earth)
The reasoning for the April 22 date is because 52 years ago it was, “a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation.” (earth) 20 years later in 1990, Earth Day went global.
This year, there are many events between April 19-27. Several online events to educate people around the world include,”National Geographic did a Livestream on Earth Day Eve, sharing stories from scientists and musicians, you can watch it here.
Another way to celebrate Earth day is through educating yourself on environmental racism and racial justice. Environmental racism is defined as a “movement that promotes environmental, economic and social justice by recognizing the direct link between economic, environmental and health issues and demanding a safe, clean community and workplace environment.” (greenaction). Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tackled their way of social justice with the celebration of 4/20, and raised awareness for the legalization of cannabis and started a petition to “hundreds of thousands of people are still being arrested every year, most of them for possession—and they are disproportionately Black. It doesn’t have to be that way. With your help, we can legalize cannabis while expunging prior cannabis convictions, and make 4/20 a day we all can celebrate.” You can sign the petition here.
President Biden is planning to have an Earth Day summit with the major United Nations and “hopes to show the rest of the world that the country is once again ready to lead in the fight against climate change. With greenhouse gas emissions and global temperatures continuing to rise, he is expected to announce more ambitious emissions-reduction targets and urge other countries to follow suit.” (council)
To educate yourself on climate change, environmental sustainability and other topics check out these documentaries and podcasts. On Netflix: “Life in Color With David Attenborough,” and “My Octopus Teacher” on Hulu watch “I am Greta”, and “Honeyland”, on Disney+, “Secrets of the Whales,” and “The Flood”.
Use this Earth Day to learn more and make changes to your everyday life. Treat every day like Earth Day, as this is our only planet and we can pass it on to more and more generations to come.
“Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures,” Gaylord Nelson.