On January 28, 1969, Union Oil’s Santa Barbara oil well blew. The oil leak penetrated the floor of the Pacific Ocean in multiple places and spread over 50 miles. The blowout led to the deaths of over 10,000 animals. Up to that point in history, there had not been a more devastating oil spill in the United States. The blowout opened many eyes and attracted attention that led to later demonstrations and activism aimed at sparking change in environmental consciousness.
Later that year, peace activist John McConnell proposed for there to be a global day designated in recognition of Earth and the prospect of world peace at a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) conference held in San Francisco, California. His idea was applauded and later urged the Earth Day proclamation to be signed by the United Nations.
Scarcely much had been arranged in recognition of Earth Day on March 21 (the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere) in 1970, so the United States Senator Gaylord Nelson founded a separate Earth Day and held it as an environmental teach-in. (Speaking of, Spring started two days early this year!) April 22 proceeded to become the national Earth Day. The worldwide organization of Earth Day was later inaugurated in 1990, generating Earth Day events in 141 other nations. Since then, that number has grown.
As a reader, you must already know that climate change and its effects on Earth are chiefly due to human activity. Each year, the global amount of fossil fuel burning amounts to 21.3 billion metric tons. The burning of these fossil fuels persists through the highest demand for air travel to the smallest consumer urge to purchase a box of manufactured deodorant. In one of his anti-pollution posters, American animator Walt Kelly fittingly wrote, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” The burning of fossil fuels is just one of many factors that contribute to the wasting and accumulating heating of our planet. Piles of trash consisting of plastics, rubber, and styrofoam line beach shores, waiting to decompose over decades. Deforestation deems countless animals homeless. Every year billions of pounds of untouched clothing and food are burned in landfills. Experts point out that humans are wrecking the planet- and slowly- themselves; that we need to “act now,” but that doesn’t seem to stop us. Despite everything, we take a day every year to plant a tree or some seeds, thinking that that will counteract all the damage. Or we attempt to think so.
The solutions are out there. There are things within our power that we can do to alleviate our past actions. It cannot be stressed enough that we need to shift our priorities now. Without our planet, there is no means for us to argue about the additional problems that come with self-actualization. Although the officially recognized Earth Day occurs once a year, we should continually do our conscientious best to keep our world healthy. Because it really is all that we have got.