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Getting ready for Earth Day 2012

Each year Earth Day picks up more momentum and provides an invaluable opportunity to learn more about protecting our environment. David Brower said, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” and there isn’t a better opportunity to teach them these lessons than Earth Day.

This coming Sunday is Earth Day and if we all work together this year we can absolutely make a difference.

The first Earth Day occurred in 1970 in the United States…twice. John McConnell was the driving influence behind the city of San Francisco’s Earth Day event on March 21, 1970, which was dedicated to celebrating the earth. A US senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson had been working on a similar idea since 1962 and after years of inconsistent work, the first full Earth Day “environmental teach-in” was held on April 22 with over 20 million participants.

Although the idea of Earth Day was initially conceived by McConnell, and the initial Earth Day prospectus presented to JFK was written by Fred Dutton, it was primarily Nelson who propelled the movement towards becoming a global celebration. The worldwide movement that has grown into today’s Earth Day, Earth Week, and Earth Month began in 1990, and today more than 170 countries around the world observe Earth Day.

According to Wikipedia, Canada first celebrated Earth Day on Thursday September 11, 1980, with a tree-planting ceremony during an event organized by a Queen’s University student named Paul Tinari. The celebration was meant to influence MPPs across Canada to declare a cross-Canada Earth Day, similar to the movement in the US.

Canada first celebrated Earth Day on April 22, 1990, in conjunction with the global movement, and 2 million people participated, which was approximately 7.5% of Canada’s population at the time. Since then, Canada has celebrated Earth Day, Earth Week and now Earth Month with a variety of eco-focused events and celebrations.

There are a lot of interesting events going throughout this year’s Earth Month. An excellent resource to find out about these events is www.earthday.ca. Some of the larger celebrations include Edmonton’s festival at Hawrelak Park, which will have over 30,000 participants, Victoria’s Earth Walk with 5,000 participants, and Oakville’s Waterways Clean-up with over 2,000 participants.

Today in Canada, Earth Day, Earth Week and Earth Month have grown into much more than a celebration of the earth; they have become a vehicle for eco-minded early adopters to share information. The spread of ideas has continued to grow organically primarily because of our interest in nature and preservation. Perhaps Nelson described it best when he said, “Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

How are you going to celebrate Earth Day, Earth Week or Earth Month this year? If you have some great ideas or lofty goals, we would like to hear about them. Please post your comments and ideas below.

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