Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Today is Earth Day! I suppose most of us know about this celebration of the environment, but I wonder if anybody out there knows the history? In a nutshell: in 1970 Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) saw an oil spill in Santa Barbara and worried about how we were destroying the world. He teamed up with Congressman Pete McCloskey (R-CA) and together they put together a bi-partisan group to organize the first Earth Day.

Walt Kelly and his then-popular comic strip POGO got into the act. Since his characters lived in the Okefenokee Swamp, it was just natural that they were concerned with garbage. The famous "We have met the enemy, and he is us" slogan was first coined by Kelly and popularized by Pogo.

The original Earth Day was a huge success and spurned the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and such new laws as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

In 1990 there was a global push around the planned 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil. Approximately 200 million people in 141 countries helped celebrate Earth Day that year, including me. While I lived in Miyazaki (Japan) I am proud to say that I was on the Earth Day Miyazaki Committee, which helped organize Earth Day events for several years. We took the international community (the US, Canadian, and European English teachers) and mixed in the young people wanting to be "cool" and helped raise awareness for recycling, re-using, and restoring. Here is a group of us in my home-town of Aya in Miyazaki. You can see I'm wearing my 1995 Earth Day t-shirt.

Do something environmentally friendly today! It's never too late. ;-)

For more information or ideas on how to help, check out

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