Earth Day 2013 – Getting Subversive

Earthday2013_logo_smallHappy Earth Day!

Yes, Earth Day – a day in support of environmental protection – is being celebrated on April 22 this year in 192 different countries, involving more than 25,000 organizations and millions of participants.

But wait. Didn’t we celebrate Earth Day just last month? Yes we did. There are actually 2 official Earth Days each year.

 Earth Day – A Brief History

earth-day-1970-quotes_1365999847Back in 1969 a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco proposed that the Date of March 21, 1970 (the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere) be set aside as a day to promote environmental protection worldwide. The Secretary General of the United Nations later signed a proclamation to this effect. Since then this date has been observed annually as “Earth Day.”

Perhaps inspired by this development, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson set April 22, 1970 as the day for a nation-wide teach-in on environmental issues. It was a huge success, involving “participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States.”

hands-globe2_2pb6The 20th anniversary of Earth Day was marked in 1990 with a series of high-profile events involving some 200 million people in 141 different countries. A similar major anniversary event was held on the 30th anniversary in 2000. This time “5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries.”

The Earth Day Network headed by Denis Hayes, one of the original national coordinators of the 1970 Earth Day events, now coordinates these ongoing activities. The network

has grown into an established Washington, DC-based organization that promotes environmental activism and year-round progressive action, domestically and internationally. … Earth Day Network members focus on environmental education; local, national, and global policies; public environmental campaigns; and organizing national and local earth day events to promote activism and environmental protection.

The international network reaches more than 25,000 organizations in 192 countries, while the domestic program engages 10,000 groups and more than 100,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental-protection activities throughout the year.

Why April 22nd?

earth-day-photoGaylord Nelson originally set April 22 as the day for his coordinated “teach-ins” in 1970 in order to maximize participation on college campuses in the U.S. The week of April 19-25 was after the spring break and before exams; it did not conflict with religious holidays like Easter and Passover; and it was late enough to have decent spring weather. To avoid competition with weekend events, he set the day for the middle of the week – Wednesday, April 22.

Coincidentally April 22, 1970 also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. Time magazine reported at the time that some people suspected the choice of this date was not a coincidence, but “a Communist trick.” The magazine even quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying

subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.

By all means we must watch out for those “subversive elements” that would plot to create an environment that would actually be good for our children! We have seen how negligent industry has been to monitor and remedy the environmental hazards it creates. We have seen how slow governments have been to respond to environmental pollution and the effects of climate change.

It is time for more of us to join that subversive network of concerned citizens who wish to make out planet environmentally safe for future generations. This Earth Day is a good time to commit ourselves to that task.

Welcome fellow subversives!


About politspectator
Edward Clayton grew up in the US but has lived in Canada for the last 4 decades. He is a long time peace activist and committed to issues of social justice and good government. He reports on Canadian, American, and global politics from a Canadian perspective.

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