Did you know today is Earth Day 2015? What does it mean and why do we honour it? The first Earth Day took place in America in 1970, amid the flower power and hippie era. Back in those days, hardly anyone in the world worried about pollution and global warming – it hadn’t been heard of too much. Living a life that was powered by fossil fuel and energy consumption was the norm for prospering countries. The environmental damage these are now known to cause was not high on the agenda of any activist association or government body. So why did this day ever come to be? The Earth Day Network website records it as the idea of one Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, who had studied the impact of a major oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969, and saw how American students were proactive in protesting against war. Senator Nelson believed that if he could generate the same passion for air and water pollution issues among America’s bright young things, it may well bring these topics to the political arena. The first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans take part – from protests to rallies to universities lectures on environmental change. Earth Day has gathered pace in the intervening years, as global warming is taking it’s toll on the planet. There is a whole lot more work to be done, if we intend to prevent more planetary damage than has already occured.
To celebrate Earth Day today, 22nd April, there are lots of ways you can add your own momentum to the ever growing international environmental movement. At a time when it has never been more important. Ironically, those who contribute least to environmental damage and climate change are the ones who suffer most from their impact. The already difficult lives of those in the Third World, where excessive heat and drought are the norm and hunger and thirst are always on the daily menu, are made even harder, by the western world’s consumerist attitudes and lack of awareness of actions that most affect the environment of our planet. You can start by changing your own energy consumption patterns – reducing food miles buying locally produced foods and growing your own vegetables in a kitchen garden. Or better still, gather with others in your neighbourhood to plant a community plot that can bind you together through homegrown food. Those who feel they want to go further can join an environmenal awareness group to take part in organised events and community activities. It’s your day today – a day to start protecting this planet for the future of the next generations – not just here in Ireland but in all parts of the world. Happy Earth Day 2015! Lets use it to make a difference.