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Earth Day; A Global Celebration

Today is one of the most important on the annual calendar of national days, festivals and celebrations; it’s Earth Day. A global event, April 22nd where many of us become environmental activists for the day, celebrating the beauty of our planet, highlighting environmental issues, educating the next generation and organising conservation projects which aim to improve planetary and community habitats.

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Our beautiful home

Christmas, Easter and even St Patrick’s or Valentine’s Day may still seem more important, especially those of religious significance. However, these festivals have in recent years become overtaken by commercialism, profit margins have diluted the original ethos of these holidays.

Saving our oceans: Postcards for World Ocean Day; celebrating our seas

In contrast Earth Day has grown in significance in recent years, and apart from the large corporations or self-serving politicians with anti-environmental agendas most people are concerned about the welfare of our planet.

A Brief History

Earth Day also has an interesting history; originating in the 1960s, through the hippy movement and a time, when the United States had a genuine claim to be international leaders in conservation. Students and activists were already staging sit-in protests about the Vietnam War, and as concern about environmental issues, such as pollution and water quality grew, extended these protests to matters of conservation.

In 1969, the United States suffered its largest oil spill to date, in Santa Barbara, Southern California, over a ten-day period up to 100,000 barrels of crude oil seeped into the ocean, decimating wildlife and spoiling miles of coastline.

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Nature versus man

Maybe this was the final straw for some, as in November 1969, at a UNESCO conference held in San Francisco, John McConnell proposed a day was designated to honour our planet and promote peace. 21st March, 1970 was the suggested date, as the recognised first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere, was later sanctioned by the United Nations.

The following month Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed that the United States hold an Earth Day of its own, in line with the sit-ins, it was to be a ‘teach-in’ highlighting issues of the environment, to be held on 22nd April, 1970. On college campuses, in school playing fields it is believed approximately 20 million Americans protested peacefully for reform for a better future and planet.

Celebrating the natural world: World Animal Day – All Creatures Great and Small

Nelson chose this date as opposed to the spring equinox of March as he realised it would provide maximum participation across campuses, as it did not involve college holidays or exam periods.

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Trawling the oceans

Earth Day in the United States has been credited with the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and important environmental legislature such as the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.

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Celebrating nature

In 1990, Earth Day went global, through the efforts of Denis Hayes, one of the original coordinators in 1970, mobilising 200 million people in 141 countries throughout the world, organising events and demonstrating for environmental reform.

“Earth Day is the largest nonsecular holiday in the world”Denis Hayes

The Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb, took place during Earth Week, 1990, consisting of mountaineers from the United States, Soviet Union and China roping up to climb Mount Everest. Calling via satellite phone from base camp, they pledged their support for peace and the environment, they also removed fixed ropes and several tons of garbage left by previous expeditions.

A world of change: Travel now; Our disappearing World

With the assistance of the internet and celebrity ‘activists’ like Leonardo DiCaprio, Earth Day 2000 connected over 5000 environmental groups across the planet. It enabled them to reach millions of people in an unprecedented 184 countries, sharing information and concerns regarding topics including climate change, habitat destruction and global pollution. They could campaign directly, promoting environmental reform and policy change.

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Our biodiverse planet

Today, organised by non-profit organisation Earth Day Network, over one billion people from 192 countries will participate, celebrating our planet and becoming involved with environmental initiatives calling for change.

“Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature”Margaret Mead

Earth Day Relevance

At a time when some of our world leaders appear to be placing the interests of large corporations ahead of the welfare of our planet, selling the future of our children for short term gain, Earth Day has become especially relevant. Denials of an increased rate of climate change due to human intervention and claiming it as a hoax, insults the intelligence of all of us and endangers our very home.

The human effect: Anthropocene Epoch – Our unwelcome ‘viral’ impact

The ethos of Earth Day, peaceful protestation, sharing of information, mobilisation of environmental activist groups, raising global awareness and cooperation while seeking reform is more important now than ever.

The plight of our planet is not a myth, or a hoax, it is not something which can be ignored, it will not go away if we bury our heads in the sand and ignore it. It is even more important we recognise Earth Day, but not only once a year, we need to carry the message with us every day, our planet needs our help!

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Making our mark

Earth Day Anthem (William Wallace) – sung to the Ode to Joy, Beethoven

Joyful, joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment

Simple gifts of nature that all join into paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our world 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

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A legacy of industry

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Our spectacular home

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