Annual Earth Day should last another 364 days
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.