Earth Day takes on climate change, sustainability

With obvious pollution mostly banished, environmentalists grapple with knottier challenges

  • Patterson High School students picket garbage dumps at Kane and North Point Boulevard on the first Earth Day.
Patterson High School students picket garbage dumps at Kane… (William H. Mortimer )
April 22, 2013|Tim Wheeler

Today is Earth Day, a day when environmentalists and concerned citizens around the world demonstrate their caring for the health of their communities, the natural world and the planet.

Forty-three years ago, the first Earth Day drew an estimated 20 million Americans into the streets, into parks and onto campuses for teach-ins and protests over environmental degradation.  Organizers today claim the observance has gone global, with more than 1 billion participants.

Earth Day helped launch the modern environmental movement, which provided public pressure for passage of many of the environmental laws we have today.  Like the movement, its focus has shifted from fighting obvious air and water pollution to knottier issues around how and where we live, and what we consume, most notably climate change.

For an interesting look back at how the movement got started and how it's changed, PRI's Living on Earth radio program has an interview with Denis Hayes, coordinator of the first Earth Day, who's still a guiding influence.

Earth Day is a chance to reflect on the vulnerability and resilience of the only home humans have.  Go to to review "10 things we've learned about the Earth since the last Earth Day."

For those inclined to do more than reflect, it's not too late to take part in environmentally oriented activities and events.  Baltimore Green Week, in fact, offers something every day this week, culminating with EcoFest on Saturday at Druid Hill Park

Also, on Tuesday, Baltimore city's Commission on Sustainability will be holding its annual town hall meeting from 6-8 pm at Humanim (1701 N. Gay Street) where residents are invited to come discuss climate change, health and sustainability in the city.  For more, go here.

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