"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." — George Bernard Shaw.
Earth Day, a holiday renowned and met with enthusiasm internationally, is a day celebrated by many and known by all. Originating in the United States as a response to mass protests throughout the 1960s and conceptualized by the then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day — sometimes referred to as Earth Week — is and always has been carried out with the intention of raising awareness about the mistreatment of the environment and to provoke the enactment of preventative measures by individuals.
These protests of the 1960s came with little prompting. As the United States became tethered to industrialization, the lands became putrid with smog and gushing sludge. At the time, little thought was given to the belching machinery, left unchecked and inefficient; its discharge had been considered a show of prosperity and profit.
Only after the publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," a New York Times bestseller in 1962, did alarms begin to rise. Carson's book, focusing on the livelihood of living organisms affected by pesticides and other toxicities, blazed like wildfire along 24 countries through the course of 500,000 copies, quickly being garnered by anti-war protest movements that had existed prior to spread of awareness.
True though it may be that the protests held much influence over Nelson's decision to establish Earth Day, what truly launched him to garner the environment with its own defensive holiday had been his viewing of the aftermath following a detrimental oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969.
This year, April 22 will mark itself as the 50th anniversary for Earth Day. Sadly, whether or not the occasion will be properly partaken in the form of public events is still uncertain, per concerns for collective health. In spite of the set precautions, the holiday may still be practiced at or around home. Some common deeds range from taking up a cleanup — that is, procuring a containment unit for any and all litter strewn about one or several outdoor features — to simply helping to spread awareness among others. For their part, children can often be seen making crafts or playing activities emphasizing the essential importance of the planet's wellbeing during or around Earth Day. As more specific acts, taking climate action, opting to walk between locations as opposed to driving or even taking public transportation conjoin with this year's theme.
As aforementioned, this year's Earth Day is set to be climate action, a countering effort against climate change. It is a vast goal indeed, and one for which an equally immense multitude of people can find an appreciation and urgency. On the official Earth Day website, earthday.org, the reason for selecting this year's theme is addressed: "Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable."
ALEXIS MCCOY is a student at La Salle-Peru High School. She can be contacted via Assistant Editor Julie Barichello at firstname.lastname@example.org.