What will America be like when the population doubles from about 280 million to over 520 million within the next 75 to 80 years or sooner? If we permit that to happen, it will have a dramatic and pervasive impact on almost all aspects of our living condition.
It will mean, for example, that we will have to double the total infrastructure of the United States within the next seven or eight decades that means we will be dealing with twice as many cars, traffic jams, parking lots, paved roads, planes and air fields, schools, colleges, prisons, apartment houses; a tremendous loss of agricultural land, open spaces, wildlife habitat, areas of scenic beauty; loss of all kinds of freedoms freedom to move about with ease, to find places free of noise, crowding and people pressure of all kinds.
– The Environmental Future Gaylord Nelson, former senator from Wisconsin and the founder of Earth Day, September 20, 2001.
This week, I wanted to take a look at the origins of Earth Day, and see what kinds of events might be happening around me, and around the world. I’ve also linked to a number of green blog posts and resources that I found interesting over the past few days.
On April 22, Earth Day began as a grass roots event to spread awareness of the environment. The first Earth Day celebration took place in 1970, after a speech at a conference by Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1969 introduced the idea, with over 20 million people participating. The organizers of that first Earthday celebration have since started the Earth Day Network
In 1980, ten years later, Gaylord Nelson gave us an update on the impact of Earth Day, including a list of the federal legislation that followed in its wake, and the response from state governments in forming agencies responsible for protecting the environment and natural resources.
Many universities have also added environmental education programs. He cites actions to try to clean up of the Great Lakes as another example of an awakening to awareness that we need to take steps to respect and protect our home.
So long as the human species inhabits the Earth, proper management of its resources will be the most fundamental issue we face. Our very survival will depend upon whether or not we are able to preserve, protect and defend our environment. We are not free to decide about whether or not our environment “matters.” It does matter, apart from any political exigencies. We disregard the needs of our ecosystem at our mortal peril.
– Earth Day ’70: What It Meant by Gaylord Nelson [EPA Journal - April 1980]
Earth Day 2008
The third annual Green Apple Festival has partnered with the Earth Day Network, and is a weekend of music and environmental awareness raising with eight free festivals across the United States, at the following locations (the links are no longer available):
- New York City (Central Park)
- Washington, DC (The National Mall)
- Chicago IL (Lincoln Park Zoo)
- Miami FL (Bicentennial Park)
- Denver CO (City Park)
- Dallas TX (Fair Park)
- San Francisco CA (Golden Gate Park), and;
- Los Angeles CA (Santa Monica Pier)
About 500,000 people are anticipated to participate in person at these events, with the possibility of a crowd in the hundreds of thousands at the National Mall in Washington, DC., alone.
There are many other events taking place world wide, and the Earth Day Network provides a way to learn more about them in their page on Earth Day 2008 Events Worldwide. They also provide some suggestions and information on how to hold your own Earth Day celebration with their Earth Day In A Box
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency web site also provides information about national volunteer activities and Earth Day Events.
Another place to learn about Earth Day events is the page on Envirolink Earth Day 2008. Envirolink has been providing information about the environment since 1991.
Greener Homes and Offices
If you want to help raise awareness of protecting the environment at work, the EcoCoach site has some suggestions on Starting a Grassroots Green Movement at Work
Conserving energy seems like a good idea. I’m thinking about some additions to my office after reading about these Smart Power Strips, which sense when devices aren’t being used, and cuts off their power automatically. I was even more impressed with the device described in this post – Another green gadget to monitor your electricity consumption
I end up throwing away a lot of junk mail, so I liked this idea – Junk Your Junk Mail
Hot water heaters use up a lot more energy than I really knew. So, it was good to see that the Department of Energy Creates Energy Star Criteria for Water Heaters
A Greener World
It’s all very well when well-off schlubs like me go on about reducing their environmental impact, but the fact of the matter is, there are lots of people in the world who only wish they could make environmental impact.
That’s why I think the folks at the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) are real eco-heroes. SELF’s mission is to bring solar power and modern communications to rural villages in the developing world–to produce meaningful, life-improving enhancements in health, education, and economic well-being.
I’ve been reading a lot about wind energy, especially locally where there’s some controversy about off shore wind power. I wonder if anyone explore the options have seen these – “Jet Engine” Wind Turbines Could Quadruple Power Generation
A sail assisted cargo ship that helped save a $1,000/day worth of bunker fuel, and a journey in a wave-powered boat are described in Finding Inspiration in Trans-Oceanic Innovation
Don’t see too many pedal powered cars on the road, and neither did police in Toronto who issued “operating an unsafe vehicle charges” against a driver of a modified 1986 Buick Regal. Fortunately for the driver, the outcome turned out not so bad. See: Pedal-Powered Car Case Laughed Out of Court
I liked the thoughfulness of this post, which discusses the use of shared cars and some of the problems around using them: Why not having a car stinks
I had a job where it was really convenient to ride the bus to work, and there were a lot of things that I wish were improved about that bus service. Some excellent suggestions in this post – What Makes a Good Bus Ride?
People fall into one of two categories: those who ride the bus and those who’d rather lick paint. Which view is right? Sure, we love to hate the bus, but are all buses really that bad? As a side effect of my mulish refusal to own a car, I find myself riding a bus quite often. By riding many a bus in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, I’ve found three important criteria by which to judge a good bus system…