Did you celebrate Earth Day?
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 10:00 PM
"Help Save Our Planet" was the theme of the 2014 Earth Day celebrated this past Tuesday. The first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, is considered by many to be the start of the modern environmental movement. Millions of Americans turned out that day to protest environmental degradation and to demonstrate on behalf of a cleaner, healthier environment. By the end of the year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been established, and Congress had passed the Clean Air Act.
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Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than one billion people in over 175 countries. On Earth Day's 40th anniversary in 2010, the Earth Day Network launched a campaign to register "A Billion Acts of Green" in advance of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development-Rio +20 in June, 2012. That goal was reached two months early, on April 22, Earth Day 2012.
The network is carrying that momentum forward, working to reach two Billion Acts of Green, and initiating a series of focused campaigns to inspire targeted action. Campaigns include such initiatives as turning down water heater thermostats, eliminating unnecessary plastic, and buying local produce. The network also sponsors the "Canopy Project," a year-round campaign to plant trees in communities around the world where they are needed most.
The League of Women Voters works to promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest. League members became concerned about depletion and conservation of natural resources as far back as the 1920s and 1930s when the League undertook a study of flood control, erosion, and the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Water resources were the focus of activities in the 1950s.With the nascent environmental movement in the 1970s, the League built a broad national program focused on protecting and managing the interrelated aspects of air, water, land use, energy and waste management.
Since then, the League has been in the forefront of the environmental protection movement, helping to frame landmark legislation and seeking to preserve and protect life-supporting ecosystems and public health. Fighting to improve opportunities for public participation on natural resource issues has always been a League theme, in addition to the substantive concerns that the League has pushed.
The League's citizen activists helped pass the landmark Clean Water Act in the early 1970s and worked to protect, expand and strengthen it through the 1990s.
With its work on energy policy beginning in the late 1970s, the League began a decades-long push for energy conservation and the use of renewable resources. As global warming emerged as a key environmental and international issue in the late 1990s, energy conservation, renewable resources and air pollution controls took on new significance, and the League's interrelated approach to natural resources issues proved farsighted.
In 2011, the League launched the "Clean Air Promise Campaign." This campaign was developed to raise awareness of the dangers of harmful pollutants like industrial carbon, mercury, and other air toxic that created a growing threat to the health of children and seniors.
The League's official position states "The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that natural resources should be managed as interrelated parts of the life-supporting ecosystems. Resources should be conserved and protected to assure their future availability. Pollution of these resources should be controlled in order to preserve the physical, chemical and biological integrity of ecosystems and to protect public health."