By Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network
The first Earth Day – on April 22, 1970 – was the birth of the modern environmental movement. Twenty million Americans took to the streets in cities all over the country to demand that something be done about the destruction of the environment. The events of that day led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Since then, Earth Day and a global environmental movement have grown exponentially. Today, more than a billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day-related activities. It is the largest civic observance in the world.
Back in 1970, the Earth Day movement achieved a rare political consensus, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural, business and labor, rich and poor. People recognized that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the environment our kids play in, the continued enjoyment of our natural resources – these are not liberal or conservative issues. And today, Earth Day remains the single best tool to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement.
This year, though, the movement has some work to do.
Environmental issues have largely taken a backseat for world leaders, but the problems our planet faces aren’t going to go away if we just ignore them. Moreover, with so many important elections taking place around the world this year and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) happening in June, 2012 will be critical in shaping environmental policies for the next decade. If we are to avert the worst of climate change and protect our planet, if we are to create the new green jobs – jobs of the future – that we need to bolster the struggling economy, we must raise our voices and let world leaders know that we want swift action. That’s why the theme of Earth Day 2012 is Mobilize the Earth™.
Thousands of Mobilize the Earth events will be held all over the world on April 22nd. From Rome to Rio, London to New Orleans, Beirut to Muscat, Kolkata to Jakarta, Beijing to Melbourne – to the flagship event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – we’ll harness the power of Earth Day and demand that environmental issues become a top priority.
Also for Earth Day 2012, Earth Day Network is inspiring A Billion Acts of Green® to demonstrate the breadth of support for this movement. A Billion Acts of Green is the world’s largest environmental service campaign and is being called a global referendum on the environment. Hundreds of millions of environmental actions have been registered by individuals, governments, businesses, and faith-based and civic organizations. We’re almost there, but we still need your help to make it to a billion.
To learn more about Earth Day 2012 and how you can get involved, go to www.earthday.org/2012 and watch this video:
About Earth Day Network:
Earth Day Network’s mission is to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. As the global coordinator of Earth Day, EDN mobilizes over one billion people in 192 countries on environmental challenges impacting our health, quality of life and the natural world. Year-round, EDN is a U.S. leader on environmental education and green school buildings, providing teachers, parents and children with curricula, lesson plans and many other tools that are necessary for achieving a higher quality of life and an environmentally literate society in an increasingly complex world. EDN also works to expand the emerging green economy and is engaged in protecting natural lands and planting millions of trees worldwide. With the leadership of the founders of the first Earth Day, EDN has grown to 22,000 partners in 192 countries, giving us the strength to tackle the most challenging environmental issues of our time. www.earthday.org