Each year for the last 45 years, Earth Day – April 22nd – signifies the anniversary of the modern environmental movement and has become an annual event where activities are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. The theme for Earth Day 2016 is “Trees for the Earth” and the goal is to plant 7.8 billion trees, worldwide, over the next five years as Earth Day moves closer to its 50th anniversary.
Earth Day began as an idea by U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, to create a national day that focused on the environment, or a “national teach-in on the environment.” Inspired by the student anti-war movement of the 1960’s, Nelson realized that if he could harness the energy displayed in the anti-war movement with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, then environmental protection could vault onto the national landscape.
On the first Earth Day, April 22nd, 1970, 20 million Americans demonstrated for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. By the end of the first year, Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. By 1990, Earth Day had gone global, and today it is recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year. Recognizing this important date, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited every world leader to the United Nations this year to officially sign the Paris Climate Agreement, which was reached last December. Learn more about Earth Day, and ways to get involved by visiting the official Earth Day website.
Earth Day is an opportunity for educators to incorporate concepts of sustainability, preservation and conservation into their classrooms. The website for educators, Edutopia, has compiled an extensive list of lesson plans, reading lists, and classroom ideas that educators can use to incorporate Earth Day into their classrooms. Access to these resources can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Earth Day is celebrated only once day per year, but the lessons can, and should, be applied every day. World View, for our part, has recently adopted a pledge to have events certified as Carolina Green. We are committed to making UNC and the world better for ourselves and future generations by living more sustainably.
In addition, World View’s 2016 Community College Symposium: From Local to Global: Exploring Environmental Sustainability will be held on November 9-10, 2016 in Chapel Hill. This day-a-half program explores significant global issues, offers best practices in global education, and provides educators an opportunity to incorporate global components into the curriculum. The 2016 symposium will focus on the environment and sustainability. To learn more, or to register for the program, click here.