Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

How often have you been told that you’re missing the forest for the trees? In 1962, the midst of what many historians consider the most politically tumultuous period of the 20th. century, an American Senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, saw the forest for the trees. Nelson realized that if we didn’t educate ourselves about the dangers facing our environment, the political issues facing the nation and the world would become moot. From this realization was born Earth Day.

In an era of Civil Rights, the Cold War and the Viet Nam war, Senator Nelson was disturbed that our political system, and indeed, most Americans, were ignorant and unconcerned about the state of the environment. He convinced President Kennedy to “take a five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September of 1963” to discuss the environment with the American people. Later, he co-opted the teach-in methods of the anti-war movement to further educate the American electorate about environmental concerns. Nelson’s first, tentative steps grew into a movement. Today, in the words of the Earth Day Network, “more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.”

Join this world wide day of environmental education by logging on to the Earth Day Network, checking out a book about the environment from your local library, or clicking on one of our numerous environmental databases. And remember, it’s sometimes helpful to step back from all the individual problems and notice the forest.

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