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The Meaning of Earth Day

The Meaning of Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and as I read about all of the celebratory events occurring in my area, I find myself pondering the real meaning of the day.  The first Earth Day was recognized in 1970 and came to fruition largely as the result of the efforts of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin who was disturbed by the 1969 Union Oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara and inspired by Vietnam War protests.  Nelson imagined Earth Day to be a large-scale teach-in and day of national protest.

Many of the events that garner publicity are beach and park clean-ups, tree plantings, and the like.  While these events are worthwhile, they do not always get to the heart of issue.  Earth Day was intended to be a chance to learn about ways in which we can live in a more environmentally responsible fashion.  Rather than reducing Earth Day to one-day cleaning excursions that have little long-term impact, we should recognize it as an opportunity to engage in real conversation about topics like reducing our dependence on oil, cutting down on our consumption and waste, and improving our public transportation infrastructure.

I am sure that many forums and classes covering such topics are held at community centers and schools across the country each year on Earth Day.  However, they do not receive the media glory.  Instead, the media tend to focus on clean-ups and tree plantings because they allow for interesting photos and videos and because they do not invite deeper discussion.  I would like to see the media focus instead upon the true meaning of Earth Day and promote genuine discussion about what Americans can do in their daily lives to bring about real, positive change.


Read more: Earth Day, Green, Holidays, Life

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


+ add your own
1:53PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Every day should be Earth Day!

4:55AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013


3:46AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013


1:46AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Save our only Earth.

12:42AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

We have not inherited this earth from our forefathers but borrowed it from our children
- Native adage

Let us rededicate to save the planet

5:41PM PST on Jan 16, 2013


12:48AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Thank you for article.

7:07PM PDT on May 7, 2012


6:33PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

The Earth can create the microbes she needs to heal herself, and the microbes that destroy the destroyers. Their fate is sealed but since they can't feel anything, they don't even know how dead their minds already are. They still think everything is about money and being 'right'.

10:20PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

I agree with Sarah, that there is too much of a focus on 'cleaning up' etc. We should not need to clean up. Education should ensure, particularly in developed society, that everyone understands the impact of selfish over-consumption, and careless resource use. Right now and for many years, the Earth and some of her people have suffered due to the greed and carelessness of other people..... but hopefully things will change....... Earth day should not be promoted by environmental groups only, it should be promoted by governments world wide to provoke responsible citizenship and thoughtful resource use...... When I asked the children in my school what they thought we should do to mark Earth day, the suggestion was made that we spend the day with no power, to make us think more about how we use power and also to understand what it would be like with no power. We did this, and had lots of conversations about what each and everyone of us can do to reduce our use of resources. The children also learn throughout their schooling about the media and how information and events are manipulated to send certain messages. I live in hope that some of these children will grow up and be influential and instrumental in change.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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