The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

The School Newspaper of Urban School of San Francisco

The Urban Legend

Is Earth Day dead?


Does the world really need Earth Day?

As Earth Day’s 40th anniversary draws near, its relevance is called into question: Can a single day genuinely and productively address environmental issues, when their gravity has become so pronounced that 351 out of 700 of world leaders already say climate change is the number one global priority (according to the World Economic Forum)?

Greg Monfils, Freshman/Sophomore Academic Dean and English Teacher, believes that Earth Day is “collecting dust.” He asserts that “not much attention (is) given to it anymore,” and he has no plans to observe the day. He expects that “there will probably be no media attention.”

Geoff Ruth, Science Department Chair, thinks that Earth Day is “no longer a useful day of celebration. Similar to how Urban no longer has just one day to focus on race and racism, a single day focusing on the environment is only marginally useful.” Geoff aggress that “Earth Day (is) giving a false sense of activism.” Ruth plans on doing “what I always do; nothing more or less.”

Dead plant symbolizes the death of Earth DayGlobal Celebrations

While many doubt whether Earth Day 2010 will prove monumental or even moderately significant, countries across the globe are preparing to assume their roles in the festivities of the day.

In Thailand, The World Dhammakaya Centre plans to gather more than 100,000 Buddhist monks to “promote world peace through inner peace,” according to the Gaiam Life Company. Monaco will hold its annual Monaco Earth Day Swim, in which participants swim 2.5km to raise money for environmental causes.

Ethiopia is joining the celebration as a new member of the Earth Day participants. On April 22, Ethiopian citizens “will learn how their health and community’s well-being is dependent on the protection of our natural environment, and special events will include panel discussions; an Awareness Fair with presentations by green businesses; and a lecture series at Addis Ababa University,” according to Gaiam Life.

National Celebrations

According to the Earth Day Network, a Washington-based group whose mission, as stated on their website, is “to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy, sustainable environment,” says that The United States plans on taking this opportunity to join the effort in creating a “global green economy.” The network anticipates that Earth Day 2010 may be a “turning point to advance climate policy, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs.”

In New York City, Grand Central Terminal will display earth related artwork, and will hold EarthFair, a two-day event with live music, organic food, and educational booths. In addition to many other national events planned for the Day, the U.S. National Park Service is hosting National Park Week during which entrance to all 392 national parks will be free, and park activities, mostly directed towards younger children, will be held.

Earth Day History

Earth Day’s first celebration was held on April 22, 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin founded the day with 20 million Americans staging the first-ever nationwide demonstration promoting environmental awareness and action. This act proved pivotal, garnering massive attention for an issue that most Americans at the time didn’t view as a significant or existing threat. This demonstration, as well as the myriad activities that accompanied it, set the stage for a collective movement to commence.

In its earlier years, Earth Day served as an instrument for like-minded activists to assemble their progressive political goals and lobby for their fulfillment. The first annual Earth Day led to the creation of The United States Environmental Protection Agency, along with the ratification of the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Endangered Species acts.

While Earth Day may have lost some of its previous spirit, many remain optimistic of its capacity to bring about some change – however modest.

What Urban thinks

Oliver Klingenstein (’11) says that Earth Day “shows people how easy environmental practices really are. Hopefully it will carry over (in the future).”

Assistant Head for Student Life Charlotte Worsley asserts that “(Earth Day) is still important as a way of educating young people in particular about the importance of taking care of the environment. These kinds of days are especially helpful for elementary and middle schools as a way to focus this kind of education.” As an adult “who has made lifestyle changes to become more environmentally responsible,” Worsley’s anticipated focus for Earth Day will be on educating her daughter.

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Is Earth Day dead?