I do like a themed day! I think one of my favourites, as it always provides me with a little laugh, is the 4th of May. If you don’t know what this one is, have a think and I will let you know the answer at the end of the post. A specified day is important in raising awareness of issues. There are many awareness days, but perhaps one of the most important is Earth Day.
Earth Day is an event that is held on 22nd April every year when various events are held to demonstrate people’s commitment to protecting the environment. It is the largest secular observance globally, being celebrated by over a billion people annually aiming to change human behaviour and lead to policy changes.
History of Earth Day
Earth Day has its roots in the United States where it was first celebrated in thousands of schools, colleges and other institutions in 1970. Earth Day largely emerged from the increase in public awareness of environmental issues. This resulted from many sources, most notably the publication of Rachel Carson’s bestselling book the Silent Spring in 1962. Earth Day provided an avenue to further push the agenda by making environmental issues front page news.
The first Earth Day was a massive success, with around 20 million US citizens taking to the streets to demonstrate for a cleaner environment across America. The Day brought many disparate environmental groups together who had been fighting against many issues such as: pollution from industry, loss of biodiversity and toxic landfill sites. The publicity created by the first Earth Day was such a success that it pressurised the federal government to create the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
And furthermore pass numerous environmental laws covering air, water pollution and protection of rare species.
Since then the message has spread and it is now an international event that is observed in around 192 countries and coordinated by the Earth Day Network. Governments and businesses will often use the day to announce the introduction of sustainability measures. Every Earth Days has a theme; for example in 2018 the chosen theme was to End Plastic Pollution; with the express aim of educating people of the issues associated with plastic usage and disposal. And aiming to create support for the elimination of single use plastics and international regulation of plastic disposal.
Involvement in Earth Day
When an individual is considering how to be involved in Earth Day, there are many actions you could take. Participation can cover a range of actions. For example, people will join a march, sign a petition or make pledges towards living a more sustainable life. These will be organised by many types of organisations such as environmental institutions, non-governmental organisations, corporations or governments.
For Earth Day 2019, the Earth Day Network theme is the ‘Protect our Species’ campaign. This campaign aims to raise awareness of accelerated rates of extinction, build a global network that embraces nature and encourages individual action. This is a key issue that is closely linked to other sustainability issues such as climate change, deforestation, poaching and the release of invasive species – to name just a few. If we don’t take action on these issues then the impacts on the earth and its inhabitants will be severe.
However, it is not too late, if we all work together; under the Earth Day banner then we can pressure governments and business to take immediate action. When it comes to 22nd April, it would be a good idea to do something such as signing a petition. This action might seem small but, if many people do it then it really will put pressure on governments and industry to make changes for the good of the planet.
If you haven’t worked it out yet May 4th is Star Wars Day – May the 4th be with you!
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MSc, MIEMA