Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Happy World Earth Day!

Sam Dawson - Graduate Consultant

Earth Day occurs on April 22nd every year to mark what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Earth day was founded by the environmentally conscious Gaylord Nelson, who was a US Senator from Wisconsin at the time. Disgusted after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California and inspired by the student anti-war movement Nelson decided to take a stand.

Earth Day 1970 embraced the population’s newly emerging consciousness of air and water pollution and channelled the energy, created through the anti-war protest movement, into protecting these environmental concerns.

Groups that previously demonstrated against oil spills, polluting factories, pesticides and the loss and extinction of wildlife (to name a few) suddenly realised they shared common values and united. 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment along with thousands of companies and universities organising protests against the deterioration of the environment.

A surprising result occurred; environmental protection was forced onto the national political agenda. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment which enlisted support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city businessmen and farmers alike. The first Earth day led to the creation of the United States Environment Protection Agency and the passing of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1990 Earth Day went global, recruiting 200 million people in 141 countries. This, in turn, gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped inspire the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Senator Nelson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor given to civilians in the US) in 1995 by President Bill Clinton for his role as Earth Day Founder.

“It was a gamble, but it worked.” – Gaylord Nelson

Earth Day is continuing to be a huge success with over one billion people taking part across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Oceania and the United States.

This year’s theme continues on from last year with “The Green Cities Campaign”. This campaign was launched to help cities around the world become more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint through focusing on three key elements: buildings, energy and transportation. The campaign aims to help cities accelerate their transition to a cleaner, healthier, and more economically viable future through improvements in efficiency, investments in renewable technology, and regulation reform.

Around the world schools will be getting involved by holding environmentally-themed lessons, such as learning about their ecological footprint, and activities including “The Canopy Project”, which aims to plant a billion trees worldwide. In Ghana, the “4-H million Tree Project” will be enabling students to plant mango trees; this fruit will be sold to local retailers to raise incomes among community members.

Communities will be enjoying a variety of events across the continents including exhibitions; Washington will be holding demonstrations from NASA, and free festivals which will showcase activities and entertainment inspired by wildlife.

Google has been a significant contributor to raising awareness of Earth Day including a link on the homepage and a customised logo. Google also provided a link to some beautiful photos showcasing nature at its best from around the world - https://mybeautifulearth.withgoogle.com/

For more information follow: http://www.earthday.org/greencities/

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