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This year, I am pondering Earth Day’s beginnings, and what the event’s place is in the fight for the future of our planet, and its place in our movement…

By Naomi Devine Posted Apr 22, 2011

Planet EarthEarth Day is older than I am. I have cared about the environment for as long as I can remember. Since I have literally grown up with the movement itself, I want to take some time this year and reflect on our successes, but more importantly, I want to think critically about where we need to go.

The environmental problems we face today are more complex (climate change) than ever and are coupled with a sense of urgency to solve that is so intense it can, at times, lead to apathy in most people.

This year, I am pondering Earth Day’s beginnings, and what the event’s place is in the fight for the future of our planet, and its place in our movement.

A clear sign of maturity is the ability to act effectively in the face of complexity. The environmental movement will be judged against this measure and we need to rise to the challenge.

Where did Earth Day come from?

Earth Day began over 40 years ago, on April 22, 1970, in the United States and is credited to Senator Gaylord Nelson. The thrust for the inaugural event was a teach-in, designed to raise awareness about the environmental issues and demonstrate political support for an environmental agenda in Washington. 22 million Americans demonstrated their support that year, and over the decades since its inception the event has grown to be recognized by over 175 countries and over 500 million people. We are aware.

The theme this year is inspiring, and it is easier than ever to participate: A Billion Acts of Green: our people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20. The Earth Day Network’s website (www.earthday.org) already lists over one hundred million acts of green, at the time of writing this blog post. A visit to the site allows you to pledge the action you will take, measure your ecological footprint (a measure of the impact your lifestyle choices have on the earth’s natural resources), and find an event taking place in your state.

I encourage you to go to the website and make your pledge, and attend an event. It is important for us to connect to the other people in our communities that share our values and are working together to create healthier, safer, and more environmentally friendly communities.

I would also like you to take things a step further. Ask yourself what you are willing to pledge to do beyond Earth Day, because we need much more action than one day of focused effort. If we are going to honour the roots of this campaign, we need to do more to show strong support for an environmental agenda in Washington. That means this: we need to ensure that the environment is an issue that matters at the ballot box.

Are you willing to become active in politics? Are you willing to work with your neighbors to ensure that the candidate who will best advocate for effective environmental action gets elected to speak for you? Are you willing to be that candidate?

In the end, this is what it will take. The only way we ensure that we meet the goals of Earth Day, and become the mature movement that can handle complex issues effectively, is to ensure that the environment is a core issue in the political arena. Let’s work with each other to make sure that happens.

Happy Earth Day.

Naomi Devine is the Whistler2020 Sustainability Planner for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. You can read more of her writing at www.naomidevine.com

Posted in Connect with Nature Tags , , ,
  • Greg Seaman

    "A clear sign of maturity is the ability to act effectively in the face of complexity."

    I think this is an interesting observation.

    Leaders are public servants, and it's our responsibility to make our voices heard, rather than wait for 'leadership'. Every action we take to conserve, to respect our environment, has a ripple effect on our friends, neighbors, and collectively they trickle up to our legislators. Change begins on the individual level, so we each need to engage in the process of choosing and influencing our elected officials.

    Thank you Naomi for posting this article!

  • Francis

    "There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more." Sen. Gaylord Nelson

    Says it all!

  • denan

    I agree that we need politicians who support sustainability, but where are these leaders now? They are left in the dust behind the ones with money to spend getting elected.

  • adhy

    We do not just commemorate Earth Day, but how to keep the earth in order to remain comfortable to live. I think the way to celebrate the Earth by: Planting trees, maintaining biological balance, cleanliness of water resources, and good soil management.

  • rollie

    We need a viral epidemic of enlightenment to get us out of our stupor.

  • Carl Mueller

    I try my best to do what I can like recycle and even sort all my recyclables into the proper blue bins and green bin. Then I found out last summer that our two local centres who take all the green bin waste were shut down temporarily due to odour issues and that all the stuff I'd ensured went into the green bin was most likely going into a landfill until they fixed the odour problem. I haven't heard an update on this situation.

    Carl

    • Greg Seaman

      The business of recycling is relatively new and there is an associated learning curve for many recycling centers. Your intention is the main thing, since it will bring positive actions and results in other ways over time.

  • AML

    Is it really necessary for us to celebrate earth day? It might bring awareness to people, but then what? We have to think of ways which people should try to live green without someone telling them to.

    • Greg Seaman

      I think bringing awareness is a good start. People should try living green because awareness brings the realization that any other way of living is simply counterproductive the long run.

  • blueandys

    hmm…only a few people realize about the important of “save the earth” EARTHDAY. Unfortunally there’s no competent leaders who care about it.

    • Southern travels

      Today, everyone should have known Earth day and importance of save earth.

  • http://www.newsandentertainment.com/zFparis.html Stephanie T. Michaud

    With the current changes in the environment and the natural calamities that are happening, everyone should contribute in making our world a better place.

  • andrea

    For me, to help this beautiful world that Gods made. Ive' started in my self before i can help cleaned my surroundings… Because if your self considered as a trust of people around you, how can you help cleaned this world? Cleaned first our soul and our self first before we can help others or our world..we don't need to wait in our elected officials to make action for this problem… thanks for the shared…..

  • matt freeman

    For me in commemorating Earth Day is to switch off all electric gadgets inside our house. Like the old days when we used to do it manually.

  • Parental Control

    EARTH DAY reminds the people of the world of the need for continuing care which is vital to Earth’s safety. Think Green & Go Green!

  • Cony C.

    I love who are encouraging people found to reflect in our beautiful home, the earth. but think about how to help avoid contamination but not to where we go when this most ruined …

  • liz

    Good article

  • kumar

    Respect the environment, Change the younger generation to live and respect the environment which is theirs tommorow. Thanks for Sharing such a post

  • www.alunatpro.de

    I agree with you that we have lots more to learn about natural remedies from ancient cultures.

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