Each year for the last 46 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. Earth Day’s 2017 theme is “Environmental and Climate Literacy” and the goal is to achieve global climate and environmental literacy by Earth Day 2020. Learn more about Earth Day 2017, and ways to get involved by visiting the official Earth Day website.
Organizers of Earth Day 2017 recognized that before a society can solve issues like environmental threats, they must first build a global citizenry that is knowledgeable in global ecological issues. To help build this knowledgeable global citizenry, the Earth Day Network has launched toolkits to give schools and community groups resources to help teach about environmental and climate literacy. The toolkits – found here – contain lesson plans for all grade levels as well as additional resources. There will even be a livestream teach-in on Monday, April 24th with Q&A from scientist Scott Denning from Colorado State University and youth climate leader Maxine Jimenez from UC Santa Cruz.
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.
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.
The theme for Earth Day 2017 – Environmental and Climate Literacy – acknowledges that developing a global citizenry that understands environmental and ecological issues is the first step. This aligns well with World View’s mission to equip educators with global knowledge and resources to prepare students to live in an interconnected and diverse world. Even though Earth Day is on a Saturday this year, take some time next week to discuss Environmental and Climate Literacy with your class.