An­nual Earth Day should last an­other 364 days

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Yes­ter­day marked the 45th Earth Day dur­ing which peo­ple from all over the world come to­gether to take ac­tion to clean up Earth. Press­ing prob­lems such as cli­mate change have be­come very real and crit­i­cal, and this year’s an­nual cel­e­bra­tions have more sig­nif­i­cance as world lead­ers will as­sem­ble in Paris at the end of the year for the 21st ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC).

There’s no avoid­ing the fact that we can no longer ig­nore the dis­as­ters cli­mate change is about to bring and we need to ed­u­cate peo­ple on how to pre­serve the re­sources we have be­fore they’re gone. Earth Day is also a time to learn more about the benefits of eat­ing lo­cal foods, plant­ing trees, sav­ing en­ergy and wa­ter, as well as start­ing to prop­erly sort out trash. Yet, we shouldn’t just show our con­cerns one day and for­get ev­ery­thing about it the next day. For the next 364 days, we should try to re­mind our­selves to do more to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and stop squandering re­sources. But, do you know why we are cel­e­brat­ing Earth Day in the first place?

The an­nual cel­e­bra­tion to “re­spect and honor peace and the Earth” was pro­posed by peace ac­tivist John McConnell dur­ing a UNESCO con­fer­ence held in San Fran­cisco in 1969. McConnell first called for such a cel­e­bra­tion to be held on March 21, 1970, which marked the first day of the spring sea­son in the North­ern Hemi­sphere. A month later, U.S. Se­na­tor Gay­lord Nel­son from Wis­con­sin founded the Earth Day that we now know to­day on April 22, 1970, af­ter wit­ness­ing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia. In hopes of bring­ing aware­ness to the mat­ter, Nel­son was later in­spired by the stu­dent anti-war move­ment, which en­cour­aged him to chan­nel the en­thu­si­asm into en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. Nel­son soon cre­ated the “na­tional teach-in on the en­vi­ron­ment,” which prompted mil­lions of Amer­i­cans to demon­strate for green causes. The move­ment also brought to­gether ac­tivists from var­i­ous move­ments, who re­al­ized that they were all work­ing to­ward a com­mon good, and even gar­nered mu­tual sup­port from Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike. The event was later pop­u­lar­ized by De­nis Hayes who served as the na­tional co­or­di­na­tor of Nel­son’s event with the sup­port of then-Repub­li­can con­gress­man Pete McCloskey. Hayes went on to el­e­vate the event into an in­ter­na­tion­ally cel­e­brated project in 1990, which made it the big cel­e­bra­tion that is marked on April 22 ev­ery year.

Nowa­days, global Earth Day events are co­or­di­nated by the Earth Day Net­work. In Tai­wan, the net­work has of­fi­cially given author­ity to the Tai­wan En­vi­ron­men­tal In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter ( ), which runs a Chi­ne­se­lan­guage web­site with in­for­ma­tion rel­e­vant to the event. In re­cent years, the cen­ter has ac­tively pro­moted event in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing Earth Day to the en­tire na­tion, which has helped in bring­ing more lo­cal aware­ness to en­vi­ron­men­tally re­lated causes, as well as unit­ing ac­tivists and con­ser­va­tion­ists un­der one roof. One of the most no­table events in which Tai­wanese have par­tic­i­pated is “A Bil­lion Acts of Green,” an In­ter­net cam­paign that has ac­cu­mu­lated more than 830,000 signatures in Tai­wan alone. Var­i­ous out­door events were also held across Tai­wan to re­flect the day of en­ergy con­ser­va­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness. In Taipei, the Na­tional Geo­graphic chan­nel spon­sored its an­nual run event ear­lier this month, with this year’s theme des­ig­nated as “Run for the Fu­ture of Food.” An­other good ex­am­ple this year was the se­ries of events known as the “Love the For­est, Pro­tect the Earth Event Se­ries” held at Dasyue­shan Na­tional For­est Recre­ation Area from April 17 to 22 that aimed to bring peo­ple closer to na­ture through the ob­ser­va­tion of lo­cal birds.

As global en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness con­tin­ues to grow, we can see an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple cel­e­brat­ing Earth Day. Cor­po­ra­tions are also re­al­iz­ing ei­ther their re­spon­si­bil­ity or their mar­ket­ing ad­van­tage in spon­sor­ing or or­ga­niz­ing Earth Day cel­e­bra­tion events. This is a pos­i­tive step for­ward and we shouldn’t let en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists ar­gue that the cel­e­bra­tion has now been com­mer­cial­ized to the point of be­com­ing an ironic ob­sta­cle of the green move­ment. Earth Day shouldn’t be­come a po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy of the doom­say­ers ei­ther, but in­stead should of­fer valu­able op­por­tu­ni­ties for those who ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of their home planet and re­flect on the im­pact their life­styles have on that beauty. That was the mean­ing of yes­ter­day’s cel­e­bra­tions and that is why the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion should last an­other 364 more days.

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