Earth Day has grown dramatically since its inception in 1970, when some 20 million Americans participated in environmental rallies, mainly on college campuses. Today, on the cusp of its fortieth anniversary, Earth Day is featured in standard calendar printings, and this April 22 more than one billion people in 190 countries are expected to attend related events.
And though the world is in greater peril than ever, organizers are trying to use Earth Day 2010 as a catalyst to advance climate policy, corporate accountability, energy efficiency, renewable energy and green jobs programs.
Whether you're an activist, gardener, urban pioneer, bicyclist, recycler, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this week. From a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to raise awareness for clean water projects, to a carbon-neutral festival on the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, to the Green Apple Festival in the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to a mass march on the National Mall in Washington, DC, there's something for everyone.
For those who like big, national events, the Earth Day Network is organizing what should be a huge rally on the Mall in Washington DC on Sunday, April 25. The goal is to demand tough, effective climate legislation and a swift transition away from 19th century energy sources. You can hear speakers James Hansen, Jesse Jackson, James Cameron, EPA head Lisa Jackson and, very important politically, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, not always a staunch ally of environmentalists. Musical guests include Joss Stone, Jimmy Cliff, Sting, Bob Weir, Mavis Staples and John Legend.
At Treehugger.com, Emma Grady surveys a range of related DC events this week, including an Animal Welfare Institute Whale Rally & March on the White House, an eco-fair at George Washington University and an Earth Day clean-up at the national zoo.
Meanwhile New York City is celebrating Earth Day all week long with more than 100 events across the five boroughs, including a special commemoration of the 40th anniversary in Times Square on Thursday running from 11am to 2pm and featuring short talks, musical guests, and an eco-fashion parade; a sustainable banquet combining a vegan dinner with a panel presentation from keynote speaker Andrew Revkin of the New York Times blog, Dot Earth, and panel speakers Karen Washington of Just Food, and Amanda Park Taylor of The L Magazine, and a block party featuring local artists, musicians, "green games", interactive booths, and food. There's even a self-guided tour of urban wildlife that you can listen to while riding the 7 train.
There are thousands of all different types of Earth Day happening this week coast to coast. Check out the official Earth Day site to find an event near you.
Other ways to help combat climate change:
If you're the volunteer type, the Earth Day Network's Billion Acts of Green program encourages individuals and groups to get involved in environmental stewardship and helps channel their energies while registering their activities on its website.
The Environmental Justice Foundation offers a useful guide to reducing your energy consumption.
Organize your neighbors to consider working toward creating a "Transition Town" which essentially involves a community (lots of examples here) working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address the question of how the community as a whole can become less reliant on it.
350.org suggests devoting time to a community garden and getting involved in solar projects, whether helping install a solar panel on a local school, building a solar cooker for your community, or putting a solar hot water heater on your house.
In The Nation's Ten Things column, Mindy Pennybacker outlined ten concrete ways you can reduce your carbon footprint
More than one billion people are expected to participate in Earth Day actions this year. Use this guide to find ways you can join them -- and please use the comments field below to let me know what good actions and opportunities I've missed.
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