Today, Monday 22 April, is Earth Day, a day of worldwide activity around the theme of environmental protection. The idea for earth day was suggested by John McConnell at a UNESCO conference in 1969. His proposed date was 21 March, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. However, at the same time another Earth Day, focused on environmental education, was initiated by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, and held on 22 April 1970. This subsequently became the accepted date for the day. The famous American cartoonist Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, created the promotional poster for the first Earth Day, featuring the message “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Initially a US only event, it was expanded to an international event on it’s 20th anniversary in 1990. Earth Day 1990 was celebrated in 141 countries, involving an estimated 200 million people, and was an important unifying event in the international environmental movement. Ten years later in 2000, Earth Day took another step forward, becoming the first Earth Day to be extensively organised via the Internet. A huge success, the day featured actor Leonardo DiCaprio as its official host, and involved participating events in a record 183 countries.
This year, a wide range of activities are again being planned around the world, with a focus on climate change. The effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent each year – while the concept may have felt remote, vague and theoretical not long ago, it has reached the point where we can no longer sit back and make it out to be a rumour or conspiracy theory, or a distant future generation’s problem.
To underline the fact that climate change affects us here and now, and that every person, as an individual, can take steps to do something about it, the Earth Day Network has initiated a campaign entitled “The Face of Climate Change”, with the premise that each of us represents a face of climate change, and it’s up to us to decide whether our faces will be those of the villains or heroes in the climate change picture.
As part of the campaign, they are organising a collaborative ‘global visual mosaic’ around the theme, with the idea being that people can upload photos illustrating aspects of climate change from around the world. Photos can illustrate effects, causes or solutions of climate change, and should ideally include a human face and a sign that reads “The Face of Climate Change”. To take part, and to show your role in the global climate change picture, upload your photo here.
To quote the Earth Day Network, “Together, we’ll highlight the solutions and showcase the collective power of individuals taking action across the world. In doing so, we hope to inspire our leaders to act and inspire ourselves to redouble our efforts in the fight against climate change.”
Happy Earth Day, everyone!