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Mother Earth Day

April 23, 2010

Rheanna Sand

Science in Seconds Blog by Rheanna Sand

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the inaugural Earth Day - the 20th if you live in Canada - and according to the Earth Day Network, over 1 billion people participated in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event on the globe.

But what is the purpose? What did Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson have in mind when he planned a protest on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in 1970? I bet he didn't expect to spawn the entire modern environmentalist movement, or to make the planet's health a priority for 80 percent of the next generation of Americans. I mean, a Gaylord can dream, but how big?

The Earth Day Network, born out of that first protest, works tirelessly year after year to improve and sustain the health of planet Earth through local civic education and advocacy. They partner with thousands of organizations in over 190 countries worldwide to mobilize communities, create young leaders, and to get the suffering 1.1 billion of the world's population access to clean drinking water, among other initiatives.

Earth Day has inspired many interesting publicity stunts, most notably: BP opening a completely eco-friendly gas station in 2007, Jake Gyllenhaal writing big messages on an Inuit ice floe in 2005, and, in the same year, protesters making the world's largest baked Alaska to oppose drilling in ANWR.

Earth Day, in many ways, is like Mother's Day for Earth. We should appreciate Earth all the other days of the year, but on this day we really show it. We make a pledge to ride our bikes, or donate to a conservation group, or exhale as little CO2 as possible. Sometimes these deeds are meaningful, like a spa package would be for Mom, and others, well, just end up like burnt toast and runny eggs.

But taken together over 40 years, the message has gotten through - at least, to all but the few percent who pull the strings, it seems. Our planet is vulnerable to our actions. When we pollute the planet, we poison ourselves.

So I hope you did something nice for Mother Earth yesterday. Something more substantial than exhaling less. And why don't you give her a call? You never call her…

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