I am posting a few days before the event, so my teacher-readers have an opportunity to create lesson plans.
The organizing theme of Earth Day, April 22, 2011 is “A Billion Acts of Green,” which solicits personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably.
This campaign calls for people of all nationalities to commit to an act that helps reduce carbon emissions and promotes sustainability. The act can be a simple gesture, such as washing laundry in cold water, or immense, like picking up a million pounds of trash. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.
Earth Day 1970 was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After observing political inertia following a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Senator Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university campus in the U.S. The result: 20,000,000 people demonstrating for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. The 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.
Earth Day has been called the largest secular holiday in the world: it is observed in 175 countries and celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.
Why celebrate on April 22nd? April 22 corresponds to spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Actually, Senator Nelson selected the day because spring breaks were over and final exams had not begun, so more students were likely to be in class for the teach-ins.