Earth days, Earth week or a whole month!
Global warming, overpopulation and food crisis are just a few of the issues our planet faces today. And Earth Day is a time set aside to raise people’s environmental awareness and “earth consciousness.”
Events abound the world around to celebrate Earth Day throughout April. In the Pacific, they range from cleanups to keep the beaches of Guam and Okinawa pristine to a Tokyo gathering that draws tens of thousands of eco-friendly urbanites annually.
Such events allow us time out of our busy lives to think about the Earth – to act locally on behalf of the entire planet. They also offer a chance to spend a day with family and friends participating in springtime events outdoors. But how did it all begin?
There are actually two Earth days as well as an “Earth week.” While some people celebrate Earth Day around the time of the Spring Equinox in March, others observe it on April 22 each year. Earth Week starts April 16, culminating in the main event six days later.
The first Earth Day was the brainchild of John McConnell, a newspaper publisher and influential community activist. It took place March 20, 1970, the vernal equinox that year. McConnell proposed the concept of Earth Day at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in San Francisco in 1969. The proposal was put forth as an annual observation to raise awareness for a wide range of environmental issues.
McConnell believed that Earth Day should be a time of equilibrium, when people put aside their differences and recognize a common need to preserve Earth’s resources. He believed the vernal equinox (March 20 or 21) best symbolized this since it was the time of year when the length of night and day align throughout the entire planet.
On Feb. 26, 1971, United Nation Secretary-General U Thant signed a proclamation saying that the U. N. would celebrate Earth Day annually on the vernal equinox, thereby officially establishing the March date as an international Earth Day. However, plans for a U.S. national Earth Day had already been set in motion.
Sen. Gaylord Nelson organized Earth Day as an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970. The event drew large public support to raise awareness of environmental issues among politicians. In 1990, the movement went international with more than 140 nations participating today.
Inspired by Nelson’s Earth Day, Earth Week was started in Philadelphia in 1970 by committee of students, professionals and businessmen to raise environmental awareness. Today, many celebrate a full week of activities leading up to Earth Day. But why stop at a week?
Check around on and off base and you’ll find Earth-friendly events throughout the month of April and beyond.
Earth ‘Day’ events
• Earth Day Tokyo 2013: Over 100,000 people will descend on Yoyogi Park to see eco-conscious charities, NPOs and businesses flaunt their wares and ideas. Enjoy art, good vibes and free music along with eco-friendly goods and food booths. April 20 and 21; www.earthday-tokyo.org/2013
• Earth Day Tokyo Tama: A flea market, food booths, stage performances, live music and various workshops to raise environmental awareness at Minami Osawa Nakago Park, Hachioji City Tokyo. April 20 and 21; www.804.jp
• Camp Zama’s earth science Day and science Fair: Community members working in science, engineering, technology and mathematics will be at Arnn Elementary School to give students a look at what they do April 24. Students will display their science projects for the whole community, vying for top honors from local judges on April 25.
• Camp Zama earth Day incinerator Tour: Zama, Sagamihara Housing Area and Sagami General Depot residents are welcome to learn what happens to their trash at the incinerator. A 22-passenger bus will take you from the parking lot in front of the Directorate of Public Works, Bldg. 642. Seats are available on a first-come, firstserve basis. April 29, 30, May 6, 7 from 8:30 to 10 a.m.; call 263-4030.
• Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s earth Day cleanup: Meet at Ranger Park for a Cleanup followed by a barbecue for all volunteers. Open to all Sailors and base residents. April 22, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., call 264-3904.
• Yokosuka Naval Base’s earth Day cleanup: MWR invites base residents to help keep Yokosuka clean. Sign up at the Liberty Center by April 19; cleanup is, April 27 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
• Yokota (Air Base) Library’s earth Day celebration: There will be recycling, household hazardous waste disposal and insect specimen displays April 8 – 30.