April 22 marks the celebration of Earth Day all over the world. Earth Day was created to stimulate an awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. The event was founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson which started as a national “teach-in” on environmental protection on April 22, 1970 after he witnessed the damage brought about by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and the apparent indifference of Washington in 1969. Nelson’s efforts paid off and as a result 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums on the 22nd of April to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment.
The event went global in 1990, after a group of environmental leaders approached Denis Hayes to organize a big campaign. Over 200 million people in 141 countries have been mobilized and environmental issues have finally reached a global audience. Hayes took this a step further when year 2000 came and spearheaded another campaign on global warming and for clean energy which reached over 5,000 environmental groups in over 184 countries with hundreds of millions of people joining in on the cause.
The date April 22 was chosen because Nelson thought that the week of April 19-25 was ideal in order to maximize student participation since it did not fall during spring breaks or exams, and it did not conflict with any religious holidays. Coincidentally, the 22nd of April also fell on Lenin’s 100th anniversary, and the event had been initially been suspected as a “Communist trick”
- This year, the Earth Day network held the “A Billion Acts of Green” campaign in order to promote environmental awareness through building commitments from individuals, organizations, corporations and governments in honor of Earth Day. A Billion Acts of Green aims to significantly reduce carbon emissions and supporting sustainability by registering a billion actions prior to the global Earth Summit in Rio on 2012. The movement has inspired some significant contributions coming from both organizations and countries alike, and some of the most notable contributions are as follows:
- In the Philippines, there is the tree-planting festival happening from April 22- 30, where people will be planting bamboo trees on the vacant streets of Quezon City while feeding street children. A local organization, Labason Unified Naturalist for Habitat And Wildlife, or LUNHAW will also be launching an event of adopting a communal forest. The Philippines has contributed over 12 million green acts since 2010.
- In the United States, the University of Iowa is celebrating Earth Month, which invites students to take part by attending events such as the Mason Jennings Sustainability Concert, or watching a movie, such as the Carbon Nation Climate Change solutions, and by choosing to participate in an activity such as going meatless, going trayless or trying regional dishes for a day.
- In Antigua the Environmental Awareness Group and Island Safari celebrates Earth Day by holding a special fundraiser field trip. Participants get to swim, hike, and motor through places in Antigua which show its natural beauty and give them an awareness of the environmental issues they face.