Facts about Earth Day and the environment - and what you can do to help.


 


What is Earth Day?

Earth Day -- April 22 -- is the annual celebration of the environment and a time to assess the work still needed to protect the natural gifts of our planet. Earth Day has no central organizing force behind it, though several nongovernmental organizations work to keep track of the thousands of local events in schools and parks that mark the day. Earth Day is observed around the world, although nowhere is it a national holiday. (http://usinfo.state.gov)

How It All Began

In September 1969, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson (of Wisconsin) announced that in spring 1970, there would be nationwide grassroots demonstrations on the environment. Nelson proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national agenda. The first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970. (Wikipedia)

To read a letter from Nelson about Earth Day, go to http://earthday.envirolink.org/history.html.

How You Can Help

- Plant trees. Trees help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, clean pollution, secure soil in place to prevent erosion and provide homes for a lot of biodiversity.

- Make nature crafts at school or home. Build a birdhouse or make a birdfeeder to encourage the local bird population, which plays an important role in every ecosystem. Use objects that would have otherwise been thrown away to create beautiful works of art.

- Reduce, reuse and recycle.

- Get children to recycle their old toys and games.

- Rid litter from our roadways. Many groups use the weekend of Earth Day to clear roadways, highways and neighborhood streets of litter.

- Wear green and/or brown to show your support for Earth Day, and engage others in conversations about your environmental concerns. (Don't be bossy or pushy! Just tell people some facts and then explain your feelings about them.)

For more suggestions on how you can help the earth, go to www.wikihow.com.

Quote of Note

"Every day, 133,000 computers are thrown away."

Staples spokesman Mike Black on the troubling fact that only 1 in 4 Americans recycles e-waste (computers, cell phones, etc.). The electronics contain harmful substances such as camdium nickel, mercury, lead, brominated flame retardants and lithium.

The EPA recently launched a campaign to encourage Americans to deposit their electronic goods at office supply and electronic stores such as Office Depot, Staples, Best Buy, LG Electronics and at certain cell phone stores such as Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless. Check your local outlets to see if they accept e-waste. (Dan McDonald/MetroWest Daily News)

By the Numbers: Food Waste

- Amount of pounds of food wasted by Americans in a year: 96 billion, or a quarter of all food used.

- Dollar worth of this food: $31 billion.

- Pounds of food wasted per person in a year: 300

Source: Environmental Protection Agency

Climate Change Facts

- It took 125 years to consume the first trillion barrels of oil – the world will consume the next trillion in only 30 years.

- During the past 100 years, the global temperature has warmed between 0.7 and 1.5 degrees Celsius.

- The five warmest years in past century have likely been: 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. The top-10 warmest years have all occurred since 1990.

- Scientists estimate the sea level will rise by 3.5 to 34.6 inches by 2100.

- Malaria and other warm-weather diseases are predicted to spread as the world grows warmer.

- Agriculture and biodiversity are already being impacted by global warming. Ten percent of all known plant species are under threat of extinction.

- Automobiles count for almost a third of the U.S.'s CO2 emissions, the largest source after power plants.

- By planting a large tree that creates shade, one can reduce heating and cooling costs annually by up to 40 percent.

Source: www.earthday.net

Web Sites of Interest

- Earth Day Network: ww2.earthday.net/

- Earth Day Event Calendar: http://earthday.envirolink.org/

- U.S. government’s Earth Day site: www.earthday.gov/

- Keep America Beautiful: www.kab.org/

- Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov/earthday/

GateHouse News Service