The story of Earth Day is also the story of the environmental movement in the U.S. and the world.
One catalyst was the best selling book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962. Carson, a biologist, understood chemicals and the dangers to our health from using pesticides and herbicides and other carcinogens. This book increased awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment, and the connection between pollution and public health.
The “founder” of Earth Day was Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Minnesota. The senator was moved by the environmental disaster of the oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969.
Sen. Nelson sought and got support from Congressman Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded republican. In addition Denis Hayes from Harvard was brought on board. These three men coordinated and promoted events across the country. The efforts culminated on April 22, 1970 when 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, auditoriums, college campuses and more. They marched and protested in support of a healthy and sustainable environment.
Citizens marched from coast to coast and from north to south. Earth Day received strong support from both republicans and democrats.
By the end of 1970, under the Nixon admin-istration Earth Day led to the creation of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, passage of of the Clean Air and Clean water Acts as well as the Endangered S pecies Act. The importance of these acts cannot be understat! ed.
Life depends on clean water and safe air.
In 1990 Denis Hayes organized a huge global campaign—mobilizing 200 million people in 144 countries. That year Earth Day went global! As the year 2000 approached Mr. Hayes spearheaded yet another effort, this one focused on Global Warming and a push for clean energy. About 5,000 environmental groups from around the world in 184 nations marched and rallied sending a strong message to leaders that citizens around the world wanted action on the twin issues of Global Warming and Clean Energy.
Cheboygan and Earth Day
I moved to Cheboygan in October of 1970.
No one I’ve talked to can recall if Cheboygan celebrated Earth Day 1970 or not. To the best of my knowledge, nothing of any n ote addressed Earth Day until April 2008, when the Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment (SACCPJE) held a day long workshop on a Saturday at the Cheboygan Public Library. We called the event Planet Earth, Our Only Home.
At the end we gave away a tree.
In 2009 Brenda Archambo and Laren Corie held a similar event.
Topics included: plastic shopping bags, recycling, Climate change and more.
In 2010, as part of the Audubon’s 100th birthday, the Straits Area Audubon Society had the honor of putting together events.
All these efforts led to the creation of Earth Week Plus (EWP) in 2011, under the leadership of Judi Chimner.
Earth Week Plus is about six weeks long.
Full of educational and fun activities for the entire family. Events are offered around the county. The big event of EWP is the Earth Expo held at the High School each year. There is so much to do and learn.
Some people have tables in the hallways that are incredibly informative.
Others hold educational gatherings in classrooms. One of my personal favorites is the live animal education in the gym. The year I attended one, I fell in love with turkey vultures! earthweekplus. org.
For about six years in a row the SACCPJE group have met on the corner of State and Main Streets with Earth-positive signs, usually timed to see school buses taking students home. Great to see the kids excited and pointing.
A new event, now in its second year, is the Earth Da y March and Rally for Science. This year the event starts on corner of State and Main Streets (Ottawa Park) in Cheboygan on April 21, at 11 a.m. You are encouraged to make and bring science and Earth messaged signs. If you prefer not to march, you’ll be entertained with music performed by Sam King during the march.
The rally will take place at Ottawa park after the march. Come join us in support of science!
Thanks to Sen. Nelson and the birth of Earth Day which led to those legislative acts in 1970, our air and water were cleaned up. We must remain vigilant and not let those regulations be weakened.
Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, many creatures still fly above us (Bald Eagle), and walk the land (wolves) as nature intended. Rachel Carson’s warnings about dangerous chemicals is as relevant today as it was over 50 years a go. We deserve and we require a healthy, sustainable planet in order! to live healthy lives into the future.
Consider celebrating Earth Day as a family affair: plant a tree, spend an hour or two picking up trash, recycle, avoid plastic bags and water bottles…..
the list of things we can all do is staggering.
Happy Earth Day to all!
— Karen Martin, Founder of Straits Area Concerned Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environmental.