Happy Birthday, Earth Day!

The old joke goes that it is always 5 PM somewhere, so it’s time for happy hour, right now, right here!  We might also say that right now, somewhere and somehow, someone is celebrating the beauty and bounty of the earth—so let’s have Earth Day every day, everywhere.

That’s a great sentiment, especially this month, because April 22 is the official Earth Day.  Earth Day was the brain-child of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin (read more about him here) .  His idea was to have a one-day “teach-in” on college campuses in 1970 to highlight the importance of environmental protection.  He hired Denis Hayes to co-ordinate the affair.  It was a big success, with more than 20 million people participating, from coast to coast, from city to country, and, most importantly, from conservative to liberal.  

But Senator Nelson thought that would be the end of it.  Not so, as we know.  Earth Day is celebrated across the globe every year on the anniversary of the first event.  And many places have expanded it to earth week; NC State, where I spent the last decades of my career, celebrates Earth Month! (read more about Earth Day here)

But in our enthusiasm for Earth Day, let’s not forget that there are many other “days” that celebrate one aspect or another of our environment and natural resources.  In April, for example, the 7th is World Health Day, a time to recognize that a healthy human population walks hand-in-hand with a healthy environment (a good lesson in our covid-infested times).  April 10 is the anniversary of Arbor Day, first celebrated in 1872 in Nebraska and now celebrated around the world (but on various days in different countries—Niger’s Arbor Day is August 3, for example).  

This calendar lists about 30 days devoted to some aspect of conservation and the environment, from toilets to tigers, from water to wombats, from recycling to rat-catchers.  So just like it is happy hour somewhere right now, let’s use these special days to remind us that every day is special for our relationship with the earth.  In truth, like my old Earth Day t-shirt says, “Every day is Earth Day!”

This Month in Conservation

April 1
Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Conservationist, Born (1940)
April 2
Maria Sibylla Merian, German Entomologist, Born (1647)
April 3
Jane Goodall, Chimpanzee Researcher, Born (1934)
April 4
“The Good Life” Begins Airing (1975)
April 5
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Created (1933)
April 6
American Museum of Natural History Founded (1869)
April 7
World Health Day
April 8
A Tribute to the Endangered Species Act
April 9
Jim Fowler, “Wild Kingdom” Co-host, Born (1932)
April 10
Arbor Day First Celebrated (1872)
April 11
Ian Redmond, Primatologist, Born (1954)
April 12
Arches National Monument Created (1929)
April 13
First Elephant Arrives in U.S. (1796)
April 14
Black Sunday Dust Storm (1935)
April 15
Nikolaas Tinbergen, Animal Behaviorist, Born (1907)
April 16
Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing Arrive in U.S. (1972)
April 17
Ford Mustang Introduced (1964)
April 18
Natural History Museum, London, Opened (1881)
April 19
E. Lucy Braun, Plant Ecologist, Born (1889)
April 20
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Godmother of Sustainable Development, Born (1939)
April 21
John Muir, Father of American Conservation, Born (1838)
April 22
The First Earth Day (1970)
April 23
World Book Day
April 24
Tomitaro Makino, Father of Japanese Botany, Born (1862)
April 25
Theodore Roosevelt National Park Established (1947)
April 26
John James Audubon Born (1785)
April 27
Soil Conservation Service Created (1935)
April 28
Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Announced (1986)
April 29
Dancing with Nature’s Stars
April 29
Emmeline Moore, Pioneering Fisheries Scientist, Born (1872)
April 30
First State Hunting License Fee Enacted (1864)
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