By Linda Pinkham, Basin Life Magazine
Earth Day History
Most people are surprised to learn that the original Earth Day celebration in the U.S. was a bipartisan effort that united city slickers with rural farmers, the wealthy with those of fewer means, and political conservatives with liberals. What a novel idea that the modern environmental movement was founded nearly 50 years ago through cooperative efforts between both major political parties!
Earth Day, celebrated on April 22 each year since 1970, marks the birth of the modern environmental movement. Democrat Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin came up with the idea to have a “national teach-in on the environment” and then convinced Republican Pete McCloskey, former U.S. Congressman from California, to serve as his co-chair. Denis Hayes from Harvard became the national coordinator.
More than 20 million Americans took part in the first celebration on April 22, 1970. It resulted in the birth of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Endangered Species, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts by the U.S. Congress and President Nixon by July of that year.
Since 1990, Earth Day is not only celebrated in the U.S. but worldwide. Today, an estimated billion people participate globally. The Earth Day Network leads Earth Day worldwide. This year’s celebration focuses on “protecting threatened and endangered species by educating people about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of the phenomenon.”
*Source: Earth Day Network (https://www.earthday.org/earthday)
Attend a Local Earth Day Event
One of the best ways to learn about our environment and connect with people in your community who are knowledgeable and taking action is to attend a local celebration. Two long-standing and notable Earth Day events are held locally every year.
• Rogue Valley Earth Day, established in 2001, is held at ScienceWorks Museum in Ashland from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. You will find more than 50 exhibitors covering topics from energy and water conservation to food and farms, climate, wildlife preservation, community building and more. The event always has plenty of activities for the whole family. The event strives to be a zero-waste event, so bring your own water bottle. Learn more at http://roguevalleyearthday.net
• Douglas County Earth Day & Energy Fair 2019, established in 2000, is held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. You can learn about organic gardening, green living, energy efficiency, local waterways, reusable/recycled products, native plants and trees, solar energy, electric bikes and more. Enjoy live music, prize drawings, a poetry contest, electric and alternative power car rally, local crafts and a fashion show using reclaimed materials. For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/DouglasCountyEarthDayEnergyFair/
Both events are FREE, family friendly and off-the-charts fun!