Today marks the official Earth Day 2014. It is a chance for us to step back and look at the natural world around us and examine how we can make it a better place for future generations.
Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970.
Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.
In recent years, with talk of alternative renewable energy and global warming, Earth Day has taken on a deeper meaning. And, although we live in an area where many of the environmental problems seen elsewhere on this planet seem very far removed, we must not become complacent.
Locally this year, Earth Day is being celebrated from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo and Mayor Mike Allison has proclaimed April 27 Earth Day 2014 for Great Bend.
The zoo staff and the Grass Roots Environmental Advocacy Team volunteers are the primary planners for the celebration, but other participants and sponsors include the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Sunflower Diversified Services, Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Barton Community College, Be Well Barton County, Best Western Angus Inn, Sunflower Bank, Wal-Mart, Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, Office Products Incorporated, Farmers Bank and Trust of Great Bend, Volunteers in Action, Kansas Wildlife Federation, My Town, Senior Insurance Consultants of Kansas, Ellinwood and Hoisington High Schools, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Golden Belt Bicycle Company and Credit Union of America.
Activities Sunday include a bike ride, prices and various demonstrations.
Everyone is encouraged to take part and spend a spring afternoon celebrating this world we all call home.