Each year, Earth Day (April 22) marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. According to the Earth Day web site, “The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-Vietnam war movement, 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.”
His efforts paid off and, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. That first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
In 1990, Earth Day went global – bringing environmental issues to the forefront in 141 countries. Over the last 40 years, the Earth Day organization has executed successful environmental campaigns on issues ranging climate change and drinking water to voter registration and saving the whale.
Today, the Earth Day programs focus on greening schools and promoting environmental education, accelerating the global green economy, and the “A Billion Acts of Green®” program—which is the theme for Earth Day 2011. A Billion Acts of Green inspires and rewards simple individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that further the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the global Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.
The environment is something everyone should think about—it’s vital to our lives in so many ways. And most people know about the “standard” environmental issues that receive much publicity—such as recycling, planting trees, etc. What many individuals might not know is that making home improvements can also be good for the environment. For instance, replacing older, less efficient windows with new, high-performance windows can save a significant amount of energy. Insulating homes more effectively can also save energy. And both of these energy-efficient home improvements positively impacts the environment! It’s something to consider this Friday, April 22, as we celebrate the 41st annual Earth Day—there are ways everyone can help protect the environment—and some of them even have a positive impact on home energy costs as well.
For more information on Earth Day and the “A Billion Acts of Green” program, visit www.earthday.org.
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