Earth Day 1999 -> 2000: Completing a Century
by Carolyn Chase
n April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day 20 million Americans came together to create a national environmental agenda for the United States. Earth Day 1970 generated widespread public support that led to swift enactment of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, as well as creation of the nation's Environmental Protection Agency. Legislation that had been inconceivable in 1969 became unstoppable in 1970.
On April 22, 1990, 200 million people in 141 nations took part in the first broadly international Earth Day. The campaign pressured heads of state to participate personally in the upcoming United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to address issues such as climate change and the worldwide loss of species. (Ultimately, more heads of government took part in the Rio conference than in any other event in history.) The campaign also focused international attention on recycling as a way of reducing demand for mines, logging, and dumps, and dramatically increased the rate of recycling in many societies.
The 30th anniversary of Earth Day, Earth Day 2000, will take place on Saturday April 22, 2000. Denis Hayes, Organizer of Earth Day 1970 and Chairman of Earth Day 1990 is now Chair of the Earth Day Network. He is building another breakthrough campaign. By weaving together the actions of thousands of individuals, groups and communities in the months leading up to the millennial Earth Day, we will build support and momentum for a sea change in the way we relate to the environment.
Like its predecessors, Earth Day 2000 will be judged on the legacy of concrete accomplishment it leaves in its wake. In nations around the world, Earth Day organizers will coordinate with a wide variety of civic, business, labor, and governmental organizations working in the energy and climate fields. The campaign will significantly augment public support for the groups' programs, and it will prod many of the groups to think more ambitiously about the tasks they are undertaking.
What is your vision for Earth Day 1999 and 2000? What can we achieve in the San Diego/Tijuana region? Tying into a strong national and international Earth Day 2000 campaign will stimulate interest in and publicity for local efforts. Do you have a special interest or area of concern? Please let us know your ideas and better yet, volunteer to work on them. Call Claudia at (619) 272-7370. Check out our website at www.earthday.net for the latest updates.
NOTE: Are you a graphic artist who makes a difference? Would you like to be a catalyst for Earth Day 2000 images? If so, call San Diego Earth Works right now: (619) 272-7370. We need your help.
Carolyn Chase is a founder of the Earth Day Network, and a founder and board member of San Diego EarthWorks.