Last week marked the 39th anniversary of Earth Day, a day that has changed dramatically over the years. The first Earth Day in 1970 was the largest public demonstration in American history. It inspired political leaders around the world to pass environmental laws and to take greater responsibility for the world’s natural wealth. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 170 countries and involves 1 out of every 6 people on the planet.
As Earth Day has grown, its role has also changed. Going global has meant, in some cases, foregoing local issues. The rise of corporate and government-sponsored Earth Day events has created PR opportunities that, in some cases, amount to little more than greenwashing.
This shift from community-organized to corporate-organized Earth Day events changes the conversation. Instead of talking about government policy and behavior on environmental issues, energy, electronics and computing industry sponsors for Earth Day promote the products we can buy to help the environment. Unfortunately, the discussions about bigger picture issues aren’t happening anywhere else.
Earth Day will continue on as a global event. As well it should. As Kathleen Rogers of the Earth Day Network says, it is an entry point into the environmental movement.
Actual protection of our earth - of the air and water that support the communities in which we live - is a year-long effort. It requires a commitment to environmental justice and to intelligent, informed dialogue about law and policy, as well as media awareness.
Listen to Living at the Barricades.
The meaning of Earth Day is the subject of this week’s episode Living at the Barricades. On the show we speak with Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network, environmental author Keith Farnish, Eco Marketing Solutions President Robert Piller, and Sheldon Rampton from PR Watch.
Music on this week's show:
Raise Your Hand - Janis Joplin
Emergency on Planet Earth - Jamiroquai
I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth