CURWOOD: Earth Day 2001 looks and feels a lot different than it did on the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Earth Day is the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin who in 1969 came up with the idea of a global rally for the environment. At the end of the 60s, in the wake of the Civil Rights and the antiwar movements, the first Earth Day made the environment the new activist poster child. More than 20 million people rallied for Earth Day's debut. They clogged midtown Manhattan, some waving signs, others waving dead fish and nets, yelling, "This could be you!" Iowa University students formed human barricades to keep cars off campus. Citizens in Harrison County, West Virginia, collected five tons of garbage from the highways and deposited them on the steps of the county courthouse. Even Congress shut down at Senator Nelson's request, so those politicians could promote the environment, even though many of them had to borrow speeches already prepared by Senator Nelson before taking the podium.
This year, Earth Day is expected to draw hundreds of millions of people from more than 180 countries worldwide. Yes, there will be some protests and some arrests. But the anger and passion that sparked yesterday's campus barricades and courthouse garbage dumps has largely been replaced today by outdoor festivals, bike parades, rock concerts, and tree plantings. Denis Hayes was a Harvard student in 1970, and was instrumental in organizing the first Earth Day. And in a way, he predicted how it might evolve. Speaking to throngs of demonstrators surrounding the Washington Monument, Denis Hayes kicked off that first Earth Day with these words: "If the environment is a fad, it's going to be our last fad." And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
(Music up and under)
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth