Sunday is Earth Day

Published 10:01 am Friday, April 20, 2018

Earth Day will be observed on Sunday. While nearly half a century has gone by since the initial Earth Day, the reason behind the observance remains the same.

Earth Day is marked every year in Harlan by an annual Earth Day Tree Giveaway, presented by the Harlan County Extension 4-H and the Harlan County Soil Conservation Office. The event took place at Walmart at noon, with red bud, dogwood and a small selection of apple trees given out.

According to the Earth Day Network website, the first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970.

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The Earth Day Network website states 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The Vietnam War was ongoing. At the time, Americans were overwhelmingly using leaded gas in V8 engine-powered sedans. Industry produced a large amount of smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonplace, and the word ‘environment’ appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Earth Day has grown into a global day of observance.

The History Channel’s website states Earth Day is often extended into Earth Week, an entire week focusing on “green” living. Earth Day got its start as a “national teach-in on the environment” and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of college students that could be reached.

The Earth Day Network website additionally states Earth Day was the idea of Gaylord Nelson, who was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin at that time. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized if he could “infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.”