Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Afternoon

Got any big Earth Day plans? Probably not. The first Earth Day, in 1970, was more of a nationwide protest than holiday, with 20 million participants nationwide. In New York, Fifth Avenue was closed to traffic and people picnicked on the sidewalks. Dead fish were dragged through midtown. Demonstrators in DC poured oil in front of the Interior Department to protest oil spills. College students in every state skipped classes to plant trees.

The first Earth Day didn't pass unnoticed by American's conservatives. April 22, 1970 was the centennial of Lenin's birth, a fact made much of by the Daughters of the American Revolution, who claimed the day was some kind of communist plot against America. J. Edgar Hoover also had an interest in Earth Day, placing its organizers on his watch list and sending undercover agents to infiltrate campus activities. Richard Nixon had no comment on the day itself, but three months later he created the EPA and five months after that signed the Clean Air Act. It's been pretty much downhill since then in terms of concrete results, although Earth Day 1990 did spike interest in recycling.

At age 39, Earth Day is in that awkward stage between simple adulthood and early middle age. Today, no oil will be spilled, no dead fish thrown, no classrooms emptied of students. Instead, solitary bloggers will post truncated histories serving as a reminder that the earth still needs tending, perhaps more than ever.

1 comment:

tunsie said...

i try 2 recycle enough paper,phone books,cardboard, doing so i hope 2 save a tree a year from getting cut down every year.i don't know if it helps but i do it anyway.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie