Today is April 22, Earth Day. Scientists from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. to defend the vital role science plays in public health, safety, economy, and government. Speakers mentioned the Flint water crisis, biodiversity, and energy consumption, just to name a few topics. A full stream and more science coverage can be viewed at www.democracynow.org
So how did Earth Day originate? The idea for a national day to focus on our environment came from Gaylord Nelson, who was at that time a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After he witnessed the destruction from a 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, he was inspired by a student anti-war movement. This led to the realization that if he could infuse that energy into public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would influence the national political agenda to focus on environmental protection. The chosen date for Earth Day was April 22, falling between Spring Break and final exams.
Earth Day has grown to become the largest secular observance in the world, which I think is amazing. This day is celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and continues to be a day of action that changes our behavior as humans, and can influence changes in policy.
Today, the fight for a clean environment continues to be an urgent matter, as the effects of climate change become more and more evident. I encourage you to join in this fight, whether that involves spreading the word, giving to the cause, or getting involved.