More than a billion people in 192 countries are doing something to mark Earth Day this year – flying the flag for the need to save the planet.
In Seoul, fans of South Korean pop star Psy’s hit Gangnam Style will form a flash mob to perform a variation called ‘Eco-style’ (watch them practice on YouTube ); in Veracruz, Mexico, volunteers are cleaning up beaches to improve the habitat for turtles; and in Jalandhar, India, students will plant sapling trees.
It is now 43 years since Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970. And while it is not yet a federal holiday in America, it is now celebrated by school children – and many adults – across the globe.
The Environmental Protection Agency website – under the title ‘Pick 5 for the Environment’ has suggestions for activities to undertake with students, under the headings ‘water’, ‘air’, ‘land’, ‘energy’, ‘waste’ and ‘advocacy’.
Climate change is now a massive international phenomenon. Now the Earth Day Network is trying to humanize it with its ‘Faces of Climate Change’ campaign, showing young people from all over the world and revealing their efforts to protect the planet.
Senator Gaylord Nelson was inspired by the ‘teach-ins’ of antiwar activists protesting about the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, and adopted similar moves to raise awareness about the environment. He called for rallies across America to focus the public’s attention on environmental issues.
Nelson, who died in 2005, was passionate about environmental issues and traveled on the conservation Tour with President John F.Kennedy.
When he left politics in 1981 he became counsellor for The Wilderness Society and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in September 1995 in recognition of his environmental work.
1.) What can we do to help protect the environment, both at home and at school?
2.) How much do you already know about the effects of climate change? How could you find out more?
3.) Why is it important that young people become involved in working to protect the planet?
4.) Can you think of any ideas for how we could celebrate Earth Day in our school?