April 22: A day dedicated to the Mother Earth. This evergreen planet is the reason of our existence and so it is our duty to look after its whereabouts. Awareness of its conservation was present among few mortals from time immortal but it came under one umbrella when Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin derived the idea for a national day to focus on the environment.

On this day an annual celebration followed by sowing of new plants, cleaning of the environment and spreading awareness worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and now it is celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.

The disaster that took place due to massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969 inspired Senator Nelson and he announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media. He persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Another inspiration for Senator Nelson was the student anti-war movement. From this revolt he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Such an assumption achieved political alignment; it also enlisted support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and leaders. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge support to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

Earth Day 2000 marked another mile stone event when it used the power of the Internet to organize activists; it also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, DC for the First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change has become more manifest in every day life.


~ A tribute to the Earth ~

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Maitree Shee
Hatpakha Reporter
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