Earth Day turns 40
Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2011 21:04
Forty years ago, a movement to go green was born.On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans expressed the desire to live in a cleaner, healthier environment. According to www.earthday.net, Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day founder and a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, was the first to propose a protest on the national level to clean up the environment.
In 1970, the primary focus for Earth Day revolved around the need to end the deterioration of the country as Americans were fueling their V8 sedans and industrial factories were puffing out smoke and sludge on a daily basis. The first Earth Day united the young with the old and brought with it the important campaign of protecting the land, rivers, lakes, air and the future.
Not only did Earth Day help bring peace to a nation ravaged by the events of Vietnam, but also brought about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts.
In 1990, Earth Day reached a new standard as it went global to more than 200 million people in 141 countries. This time the fight revolved around the need to focus on global warming, along with a cleaner environment. The worldwide desire for a safer environment increased recycling efforts and led to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
By 2000, technology had contributed its part to the effort, linking activists around the world with a total of 184 countries joining the fight. Events included a village-to-village talking drum chain in Gabon, Africa, and thousands gathering in Washinton, D.C., on the National Mall.
At UTM, recycling has become a major goal across campus. Dr. Heidi Huse, assistant professor in the English Department, says that three years ago on the week of April 22, known as Earth Week, events began as a way to involve not only students, but also the community in cleaning up the environment. Recycling bins are set up around campus, in classrooms and stairways.
However, Huse says that recycling is not yet an ingrained habit and that she regularly sees people walk across the room to a trashcan instead of using the recycling bin that is right next to them.
In order to increase the amount of recycling done, more education and awareness on the subject need to be addressed. Various events will be held this year during Earth Week, including "take a dive for recycling" in which students will be able to see how much trash can actually be recycled, films will be shown and speakers will be on hand to address recycling awareness.
Though Earth Day is an essential part of cleaning up the environment and making the future a much better prospect, it should not be the only time that recycling bins are filled and new trees are planted.
So go out and work together, so that the next 40 years of Earth Days will come with a cleaner and healthier environment.