Some would argue that the 20th-century concept of a single day of environmental activism in a time when electric cars are becoming more popular and everybody seems to be recycling. When “climate change” is part of our cultural vernacular and solar energy is coming to Nakusp? Is Earth Day an anachronism that needs updating for the 21st century?
Probably. In many ways, the Earth Day still practiced in schools and parks today resembles the early days. The event that falls each April 22 was begun in 1970 by an environmentally minded U.S. Senator named Gaylord Nelson, as a teach-in — a term that just drips groovy ‘70s. It began as a way to perpetuate “consciousness raising” in a time when the internet and TV just had a handful of channels.
We could argue that global citizens of the western world have never been more aware of the harm we’ve cause during the industrialization on the planet. The world was a different place- chlorofluorocarbons were contained in hairspray, people smoked everywhere, even in elevators and restaurants, and there were no concerns about anything that a vehicle emitted.
Four decades ago, the creation of Earth Day started the process of renovations to the planet, changes in our way of thinking and in the education of future generations.
But in 2015, do we need Earth Day anymore? To be sure, we’ve got a long way left to go to, however, the lessons of 41 years are so ingrained in society that smoking is not only no allowed in the workplace, it’s really not allowed anywhere anymore. The concept of reusing, recycling, reducing is second nature to individuals and corporations alike.
We may not need our consciousness raised like we did 41 years ago, but with so many embracing its meaning into their day-to-day life, one can’t help but wonder if it really needs its own official day anymore. Maybe the point of Earth Day could be revised to serve a new purpose. It was created to be a time to focus on where we need to go. We’re well on our way, every day of the year.
Perhaps Earth Day should be more of a celebration of how far we’ve come, and a reminder that continued environmental progress is the only decision.