Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

We have been celebrating Earth day since 1970 on April 22 each year. It is a day to increase awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. I was curious about this so did a bit of rooting around for more information.

The world was a different place in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This Earth Day – the one held on April 22nd each year - was instituted in the US and promoted widely. At the time, environmental issues and concerns were something no one really paid attention to. Gradually awareness grew – cars got smaller as gas got more expensive and we started to understand that you can’t bury garbage in the countryside. When I was a real estate agent I once showed a property which was a gorgeous countryside estate - on 50 acreas of rolling pastures, except it was being sold under power of sale because the mortgage fell through - because they discovered it was built on a dump site from the 60s!

In 1990 there were 200 million people in 141 countries celebrated Earth Day and this helped raise the status of environmental issues onto the world stage to promote the need for recycling – something we now take for granted. It also helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Since then Earth Day has achieved International significance and taken its place along side Mother’s Day, Secretaries Day (sorry, now called Admin Assistant’s Day) and all those other notable days and is the thing we focus on every April 22nd. To find out more about Celebrate Earth Day go here. --- or -- To see the millions and thousands of "Celebrate this and that Days" go here.)

At its inception, Earth Day’s primary focus was on educating the public about environmental issues. Even today, Earth day is a teaching opportunity in all our schools and has, perhaps in part, resulted in the change in our attitudes about the environment. As Martha Stewart would say, this is a good thing.

Interesting to note that the United Nations celebrates an Earth Day each year on the March equinox, which is often March 20. The vernal equinox Earth Day has date has been in place since 1969. It is celebrated by many, among those Margaret Mead. She added her support for the equinox Earth Day, and in 1978 declared:

"EARTH DAY is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.

EARTH DAY draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making night and day of equal length in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the March Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth as seen from space appropriate."

It is traditional to observe this Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, a bell donated by Japan to the United Nations

Makes you wonder why the US had to pick a different day! Well, the date has to do with the focus of the US Earth Day – education. The date was chosen as a day which would fit into the school calendar and reach the most students. It did not fall during exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other events mid-week, so Wednesday, April 22 was chosen.

So what should we do. I for one, will spend some time this evening thinking about ways I could change for the better and reduce my impact on the environment. I found a tool to help me and you might want to check it out also.

Calculate your Ecological Footprint Here

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