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Earth Day: Over the Hill, Underappreciated

Apr 07, 2016 03:42PM ● Published by Cassidy Ward

By Cassidy Ward

Ogden - Friday, April 22 will mark the 47th annual Earth Day. First proposed by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, for which he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Earth Day represents an effort to renew a commitment to environmental conservation and protection and is credited with sparking an increase in environmental awareness and activism. 

In 1990, on the 20th anniversary of that first Earth Day two organizations, The Earth Day 20 Foundation and Earth Day 1990, both chaired by Nelson, joined forces to take what began as a strictly United States effort to the world stage. Through massive marketing efforts on television and radio, they were able to coordinate the activities of more than 200 million people in 141 countries, the result of which was the environmental boom of the 1990s.

In response, environmental focus in the United States and the world at large was stronger than ever. Movies and television focused on the message of world peace and balance in our ecosystem.  “Captain Planet: and the Planeteers” and “FernGully: The Last Rainforest” captivated the imaginations of a generation. Recycling and an end to deforestation were at the forefront of our minds. Climate change was acknowledged as a very real threat to our planet and our way of life. Public consciousness had shifted and for the first time since the dawn of the industrial revolution, we were collectively taking action to halt and undo the damage we, in our ignorance, had caused. For the time, it seemed, we had our sights set on progress, not of the industrial variety, but of homeostasis. 

The span of human attention pales in comparison to the scope of our environmental problems. Wars began and escalated, economies began to crumble, the housing market collapsed, and our focused turned to more immediate problems. The willingness of individuals to address environmental concerns decreased in contrast with the increased need for that attention. 

There is no doubt in the scientific community that our environmental concerns have increased dramatically since these problems first came to our attention 47 years ago. Carbon in our atmosphere is up to 400 parts per million; global temperatures are rising; the ice caps are melting; plastics are accumulating in the world’s oceans. Fish populations are down in staggering numbers; species are dying off at unprecedented rates; we are for all intents and purposes in the midst of the next great extinction level event and, at least to some degree, we are causing it. 

Never, in all of recorded human history, has there been a more pressing need for us to rally together in support of a common goal, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, our very way of life is at risk, but it’s not too late, not yet. It is with that in mind that this Earth Day, 2016, the year of hover boards and self-lacing shoes, that we should endeavor to create the world we want to live in, the world we want to leave to our children and grandchildren. 

The Ogden Nature Center is hosting an Earth Day Extravaganza April 20. This event will offer education on Earth’s ecosystem. Kids and adults will learn ways that they can reduce their environmental impact and participate in a nature walk and trash pickup around the nature center. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for kids ages 2 - 11 and $4 for seniors. Members can attend for free. 

The Ogden Trails Network is participating in the Comcast Cares River Cleanup April 30. Participants will clean up trash, and manage overgrowth of weeds surrounding the River Parkway Trail. Breakfast, lunch and shirts will be provided while supplies last. 

Consider participating in Earth Day celebrations in the community or organizing a community event. By our powers combined, we can take better care of our home and leave a better, cleaner, more sustainable world for tomorrow.  

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