Earth Day is celebrated in most countries on the vernal equinox to mark the precise moment that spring begins in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. At this global moment, night and day are equal all over the world, the sun sets at the South Pole and rises at the North Pole and anyone standing on the equator at noon will not cast a shadow. Earth Day is a day of equilibrium when differences are forgotten and nature's renewal is celebrated by all.
This annual event marks the beginning of Earth Day which has been traditionally observed with the ringing of bells. Earth Day was created to remind us of our shared responsibility to protect the planet. The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the vernal equinox (around March 21). On February 26, 1971, Secretary-General U Thant signed a proclamation to that effect. At the moment of the equinox, the Peace Bell is rung at the UN headquarters in New York.
John McConnell first introduced the idea of a global holiday called Earth Day at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in 1969, the same year that he designed the Earth flag. The first Earth Day proclamation was issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970. UN Secretary-General U Thant supported John McConnell’s global initiative to celebrate this annual spring equinox event. In his statement on 21 March 1971, Secretary-General U Thant said: “May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life.” Secretary General Waldheim observed Earth Day with similar ceremonies in 1972. The United Nations Earth Day ceremony continued each year on the day of the March equinox (20th or 21st), with the ringing of the U.N. Peace Bell at the very moment of the equinox. In 1975 the U.S. Congress and President Ford proclaimed and urged observance of Earth Day on the March equinox.
In 2005 Earth Day celebrates its 35th birthday.
Earth Day in the United States
In January 1970, the Environmental Teach-In, decided to call their one-off event on 22 April Earth Day. The successes of that day led to it becoming a regular event. Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist in the U.S. Senate, took a leading role in organizing the celebration, to demonstrate popular political support for an environmental agenda. Senator Nelson staffed the office with college students and selected Denis Hayes (a Harvard student and Stanford graduate) as coordinator of activities.
According to Senator Nelson, Earth Day "worked" because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. Though he felt his committee had neither the time nor resources to organize the 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated, these things did happen. According to the Senator, "It organized itself."
The "holiday" proved extremely popular in the United States. The first Earth Day, in 1970, had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the U.S.. Senator Nelson directly credited the first Earth Day with persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency. In 1971 Senator Gaylord Nelson announced an 'Earth Week' — for the third week of April — as a yearly event.
The symbol for Earth Day is a green Θ (Greek theta) on a white background:
The alternative rock group Dramarama released a popular song about Earth Day in 1993 called "What Are We Gonna Do" . Canadian artist Devin Townsend has composed a song called "Earth Day" which appears on his 2001 album Terria.
Last updated: 08-21-2005 01:01:24