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Editorial: Environmental focus is here to stay

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the birth of the environmental movement and millions of people around the world are observing Earth Day by pitching in to clean up public places.

In 1969, peace activist John McConel proposed a day to honor the Earth at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization conference in San Francisco.

He wanted the day to be celebrated on the first day of spring, March 21, in the northern hemisphere. His proposal was approved by U Thant, then secretary general of the United Nations.

A month later, a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. He was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of his work to protect the Earth.

Dennis Hayes launched an organization that promoted Earth Day in the U.S. and then on the international stage in 1990, organizing events in 141 nations.

The first Earth Day in 1970 took place on the campuses of 2,000 colleges and universities, as well as 10,000 primary and secondary schools. Hundreds of communities began to observe the day, and often the entire preceding week.

Environmental groups promote Earth Day as a time of action to change human behavior and make policy changes that better protect resources.

The establishment of Earth Day followed a 1968 conference organized by the U.S. Public Health Service for students to hear from scientists about the effects of environmntal degradation on human health.

The 1960s had been a time for ecological activism, with widespread opposition to nuclear weapons. Rachel Carson wrote the bestseller “Silent Spring” in 1962 that became an influential part of the environmental movement.

The book centered on the damage done from indiscriminate use of pesticides and other chemicals. She advocated for organic gardening and farming practices.

The Earth Day proclamation brought people together under one banner, the Ecology Flag. The flag was created by cartoonist Ron Cobb and resembled the Greek letter theta and is a combination of the letters “E” and “O” taken from the words “Environment” and “Organism,” respectively.

The flag consistes of 13 alternating green and white stripes with a symbol on the left hand site.

The Earth Day anthem has lyrics set to the tone of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody.

Each April, the Eart Day network encouraged people to take on eco-friendly projects and focus on the concepts of Reduce, Recycle and Reuse. Citizens around the globe are urged to fight global warming.

Numerous people in Gorge communities will be working today to plant trees, collect and remove garbage, clean roads and engage in educational activities.

The environmental movement has drawn fire from people in industries, such as logging, that have been decimated by protection regulations.

In recent years, the economic struggle of rural communities has brought a call for more balance in water, air and land rules. Balance is necessary in all things and the needs of human beings also need to be given consideration in resource use.

However, those who oppose Earth Day need to realize that the environmental movement is here to stay and we must all do our part to take care of the resources that sustain us.


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