When Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, proposed the first nationwide environmental protest "to shake up the political establishment and force this issue onto the national agenda," he could not have forseen the global impact that his vision would have.
Now, on the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day protest, the planet is facing it's most challenging crisis ever– climate change– and people are divided about when and how it should be addressed.
Although this is a time of great environmental turmoil in our world, it is also a time of great opportunity and a chance for collaboration on an unprecedented scale. The choices that we make as a society in the weeks and months ahead will be crucial if we are to build a healthy, prosperous, clean energy economy now and for the future.
To some, Earth Day might seem like a pointless celebration, a time for people to make a show of their tree planting and recycling, only to go back to their wasteful, polluting habits the very next day.
But to others, Earth Day is a chance for environmental issues to claim the global spotlight, just for a moment. It is a turning point that can be used to affect the societal perspective, and advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs.
Earth Day 2010 is a pivotal opportunity for individuals, corporations and governments to join together and create a global green economy.
Here are some ways that you can join the more than one billion people in 190 countries that are taking action for Earth Day!
1. Participate in the Global Days of Service – April 17-18 This weekend, tens of thousands of volunteers will join together to tackle projects in parks, beaches, schools and forests that will focus on climate change solutions like tree planting, energy efficiency retrofits, water protection, urban gardens and forest restoration.
Volunteer activities will be quantified though Earth Day Network's events registration tool and carried out through our local partners around the world. Click here to sign up as a partner!
2. Help Generate a Billion Acts of Green™
The goal of this campaign is to aggregate the millions of environmental service commitments that individuals and organizations around the world make each year - thereby sending a powerful message that people from all walks of life are committed to solving climate change.
Register your individual, community or business service acts here.
3. Attend An Earth Day Rally
It's important to remember that the original Earth Day was planned as a protest; a political event meant to communicate the public's dissatisfaction with the way the government was avoiding environmental issues. This Earth Day should be no different! Go to the online Earth Day Action Center to search by zip code for events happening all week in your community (international events also listed)!
4. Get The Kids Involved
Today's youngest citizens are the ones who stand to lose (or gain!) the most by the actions that we take this Earth Day. The fight to slow climate change and clean up our industrial systems is really a fight for their future health and happiness.
Demonstrate to your kids that the actions taken on Earth Day should be part of our decision making process every day, and create fun ways that they can be involved as well. If you need help getting started, check out OurBigEarth.com's ideas for Getting Kids Excited About Earth Day.
5. Declare Your Energy Independence From Big Oil
Every day until April 22, The Wilderness Society is posting a new reason whythis 40th Earth Day is the time for pushing the Senate to act on climate and clean energy. Join them daily for a new fact and then sign the Declaration of Energy Independence.
Another great way to demonstrate your desire for renewable energy is to go the entire 24-hour period of Earth Day without using your car, truck, or any other form of transportation that uses fossil fuels. This means dusting off the bike, skateboard or rollerblades, and busting out those walking shoes.
If you're not used to getting around town on two wheels instead of four, check out the long awaited bike route finder on Google maps. All you have to do is type in two addresses and ask Google to draw you a route for you and your bike and, voila! – there you have it.
6. Go Tell It At The White House
Even if you can't make it to the massive Climate Rally on the National Mall in Washington D.C., there's still a way for you to let the federal government know that you're passionate about protecting the environment.
7. Sign A Petition
It's important for us to remember that governments are here to serve and protect the people, not the other way around. You can help drive significant political change simply by adding your voice to the thousands that have already signed these Earth Day petitions...all it takes is a click!