April 22nd of each year marks the anniversary of the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. That makes this year the 47th celebration of our home planet. For those of you who may not remember the 1970's (or remember them very well for whatever reason...) it was a time of counterculture in the United States; the Beatles had just released their last album, Jimmy Hendrix had died, war raged in Vietnam, and American cars, with their huge V8 engines hungrily slurped down gallons and gallons of leaded gasoline. Air pollution was a common and accepted thing. And the word Environment was only used in spelling bees.
But, behind the scenes, the stage had already been set by the publication of the now famous book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson back in 1962. it was a watershed moment...the book became a New York bestseller and sold 500,000 copies in 24 countries. The book raised public awareness and concerns for living organisms, the environment, and the link between pollution and public health. Thank you, Ms. Carson, for starting this necessary movement. And it didn't come a minute too soon! Earth Day 1970 gave a voice to this movement and put environmental concerns on the front page of every newspaper and on TV news program. Earth Day's founder was Gaylord Nelson, then a US Senator from Wisconsin. He saw the need of focusing attention on this most-important topic after witnessing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the energy of student's anti-war movement, Senator Nelson chose the date of April 22 (midway between Spring Break and Final Exams) and built a staff of 85 to promote events all across the country. Back on April 22, 1970. 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. And the rest, as they say, is history....
Here are a few fun facts about Planet Earth...our Home Sweet Home.
1. It's the only planet that has an atmosphere containing 21% oxygen.
2. It's the only planet that has liquid water on its surface.
3. Its the only planet in the Solar System that has life. (That's all of us!)
4. Earth is the only inner planet (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) to have one large satellite, the Moon. Mars has two tiny ones; Mercury and Venus have none.
5. Earth is fragile. its surface is split into plates (tectonic plates...not the kind from IKEA) which float on a rocky mantle (the layer between the surface of earth, its crust, and its hot liquid core. The inside of the earth is active and volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountain building takes place along the boundaries of these tectonic plates.
6. As a result of Earth's geological activity (earthquakes and volcanoes), there are fewer craters on its surface than there on the surface of other planets.
7. The Earth's diameter is 7928 miles, 12700 kilometers, and is not an exact sphere; the diameter going around the North and South Poles is slightly less than the diameter around the equator.
8. Earth is different from all other planets because it has all of us...a wide diversity of life and intelligent beings! This has only been possible because the Earth's atmosphere which has protected Earth and allowed life to flourish. It's kind of important that we protect and care for that, don't you think?
There are Earth Day activities all over place and I hope that you will spend some time over the weekend attending one or two of them. if there's nothing in your local area, may I suggest just spending time in the great outdoors and soaking up all of her nature beauty. Earth is a very special place. Let's love her and care for her. And make every day Earth Day, not just April 22.