40th Anniversary of
1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets on April 22nd to
demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Many consider the
first Earth Day the birth of the modern environmental movement.
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The year 1970 was the year of the Kent State shootings, the death of Jimi Hendrix, the advent of fiber optics, Apollo 13, the last Beatles album, and the meltdown of fuel rods in the Savannah River nuclear plant near Aiken, South Carolina--an incident not acknowledged for 18 years. It was into such a world that the very first Earth Day was born. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed this nationwide environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda." At the time, air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity and "environment" was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news. Nelson recalls: "It was a gamble, and it worked."
Denis Hayes, the national coordinator of Earth Day, and his youthful staff, organized massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts.
In 1990, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues on to the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22, 2000 rolled around 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent the message loud and clear that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.
Now, the fight for a clean environment continues with Earth Day 2010. To observe the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the Earth Day Network is organizing major events around the globe, in cities as diverse as Washington, DC, London, Mumbai, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Tokyo, and Barcelona.
Reprinted from www.earthday.net
2010 Northern California Earth Day Events
Santa Rosa Earth Day Fair
April 17th, Noon-4pm - Old Courthouse Square
Berkeley Earth Day
April 24th, noon-5 pm - Civic Center Park
Oakland's 15th Annual Earth Day Celebration
April 17th, 9am-noon (Various locations around Oakland)
Earth Day Marin
Saturday, April 24th (Time and Location TBA)
Sausalito Earth Day Celebration
April 18, 11am-4pm - Headlands Institute
Earth Day Celebration/Restoration Work Day
Richardson Bay Audubon Center in Tiburon
Saturday, April 17th, 9am-11pm
Sacramento Earth Day
April 11, 12-5pm - Southside Park
Lester Brown on environmental change
John Robbins on vegetarianism and healing the planet
Preserving San Francisco Bay
Keeping Our State Parks Open
Global Warming: Myths and Facts
Al Gore's Campaign to Solve the Climate Crisis
The Ecological Footprint
How to Get Your Voice Heard in Congress
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