Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrate Earth Day

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Celebrate Earth Day

Forty-two years ago, 20 million Americans, mostly from thousands of colleges and universities, united for the observation of the first Earth Day. Citizens turned their passion and energy from the anti-war protests of the sixties to a mounting national concern about the environment.

On April 22, 1970 the grassroots event marked the start of what is the modern environmental movement. Citizens were way ahead of the government officials, and the Democrats and the Republicans became united in their support of taking care of our natural resources.

Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, recognizing the rising concern, had been laying the ground work for several years for a day of observation about environmental issues. Rachel Carson’s publication of the best seller Silent Spring in 1962 brought attention to the use of pesticides and their effect on birds and other wildlife.

Earth Day quickly became an annual event, and in 1990 it became a global movement in 141 countries and mobilized 200 million people. Across the world demonstrators railed against toxic dumps, oil spills, power plants, raw sewage, freeways, and the loss of wilderness areas and the extinction of wildlife.

The movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Each decade has brought additional challenges, but the commitment remains strong.

More than one-third of all energy is used by people in their homes. Families throw away about 88 pounds of plastic every year. Aluminum cans and plastics take 500 years to break down. Cotton rags, and paper, and organic materials take six months to decompose.

“Knowledge is power,” wrote Sir Francis Bacon. If you’d like to pump-up your power for dealing with the environment, plan to attend the Port Discover Earth Day Festival on April 21.

Featuring demonstrations and information about all aspects of creating and living an environmentally friendly life, it will take place at Mariners’ Wharf from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm.

Hands-on science activities for all ages will focus on such topics as water quality and energy efficiency. Groups from the community will participate bringing information about organic gardening, composting, rain barrels, recycled crafts, energy conservation, recycling, nature crafts, just to name a few topics.

Gwen Bell, independent Shaklee distributor, Culligan Water, and Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation are supporting the event. Music will begin at 11:00 am with the Battle of the Bands, a local competition sponsored by the Youth Tobacco Prevention program of the Albemarle Health Services.

Taking care of planet Earth is a responsibility of every good citizen. As the population increases, the mandate becomes even more important to our survival. Knowledge of scientific principles regarding environmental issues will give us each the key to making a difference in our children’s world. See you at the festival!
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