Each year, April 22nd marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement. Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin in the 60’s and 70’s, took inspiration from the student anti-war movement and announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media.
After coordinating a staff and promoting events across America, April 22nd, 1970 organized 20 million Americans demonstrating for a healthy, sustainable environment. Suddenly groups that had been fighting separately against oil spills, pollution, loss of wilderness and endangering wildlife came together in solidarity for the Earth. Earth Day reached across political and economic lines and led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. By 1990, the campaign went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and thereby placing environmental concerns on the world stage.
In 2011, Earth Day comes in a time of challenges for the environmental community. “Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all [contribute] to a strong narrative that [overshadows] the cause of progress and change.” Additionally, people worldwide are under the impression that we can shop our way out of global warming simply by purchasing compact fluorescent light bulbs, hybrid cars, and organic food. The fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the population grows and energy consumption continues. Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series is hosting speaker Heather Rogers, author of Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution at UVM on April 21st at 7:00pm. Rogers traveled the globe researching some of the oft-touted climate change “solutions.”
Find out more about Earth Day and the Earth Day Movement Thursday night and then head down to the waterfront on Friday to join the all day festival hosted by the PJC and Main Street Landing. Join us for live music, guest speakers, a film screening, and other activities and information.