Happy Earth Day!

(Earth Day flag, by John McConnell: The Blue Marble on a blue field.)
Did you know it is Earth Day today? You probably hear more about Earth Day… (or sadly, more about what color the latest Hollywood-star had on her bikini she was wearing to her beach-party this week-end and what she was doing).

However, Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day. Earth Day is planned for April 22 in all years at least through 2015.

The name and concept of Earth Day was allegedly pioneered by John McConnell in 1969 (!) at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco. He proposed March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. About the same time a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

The 1970 Earth Day, April 22

The genesis of Earth Day is credited to Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and this Earth Day is now observed on April 22 each year by more than 500 million people and several national governments in 175 countries. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

Nelson, an environmental and conservationist activist, took a leading role in organizing the celebration, hoping to demonstrate popular political support for an environmental agenda. He modeled it on the highly effective Vietnam War teach-ins of the time. Earth Day was first proposed in a prospectus to JFK written by Fred Dutton. However, Nelson decided against much of Dutton’s top-down approach, favoring a decentralized, grassroots effort in which each community shaped its action around local concerns.

Nelson had conceived the idea for his environmental teach-in following a trip he took to Santa Barbara right after the horrific oil spill off the coast in 1969. Outraged by the devastation and Washington political inertia, Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university campus in the U.S.

How about your neighborhood? I haven’t heard much about this on Swedish TV the last week. Maybe they tell us tonight, what day it was today… Perhaps it doesn’t regard Sweden? Comparing the English and Swedish pages on Wikipedia on the matter might lead to that notion. The Swedish wiki-page on the subject “Eart Day” (Jordens Dag) is about 4 lines long. The English wiki-page consists of at least 4 sides of text…

Eart Day official site >>>

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