Earth Day: Then and Now (4.4.2022)

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The snow is gone, and the grass is greening up in fields and along the roadsides.  Mixed in with all that tender beauty is a winter’s worth of unsightly trash that has been blown or tossed from cars.  With Earth Day right around the corner, now is a good time to consider what we can do to clean up after ourselves.

The Earth Day idea originated with Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1969, and really got rolling when Harvard graduate student Denis Hayes began working with him.

The first Earth Day took place in 1970 and was designed to be a “national teach-in” to help Americans understand the need for environmental protections.  Hayes stimulated activism and helped guide the national political agenda to include environmental concerns.  Americans, and people the world over, were becoming aware of the need to take action to secure a healthy and sustainable planet for future generations.  Peaceful demonstrations protested toxic emissions and urged regulations for producers.  By 1980 the Environmental Protection Agency had come into being, DDT and lead in gasoline had been banned.  Since then, civil rights, religious and social justice leaders have become involved; activities have expanded to include urban and rural cleanups, efficiency events, protests and letter writing campaign – all aimed at cleaning up our planet and living more responsibly on it.

In more recent years there has been a focus on renewable energy sources, species extinctions and especially on climate change.  This focus has resulted in reforestation projects, ozone monitoring and large scale pollution reduction.  But no matter what the large scale theme or focus may be, taking the time to clean up around ourselves has always been encouraged.  Earth Day 2022 is April 22, making now a good time to get out, pick up that trash, and become a little more conscientious about what we are throwing away.  This is something each of us can do.

Happy Earth Day 2022!

In honor of Earth Day check out these books to learn more about our environment.


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