Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day
By Stacy Milbouer and Tom Long
Fiddlehead Contributing Editors
Earth Day will celebrate its 50th, or golden, anniversary on April 20, which is appropriate since the one-day commemoration is the gold standard for environmental activism.
The celebration was the brainchild of the late U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat, who planned a national “teach-in” about the environment in reaction to a massive oil spill on the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., the year before and to redirect student anti-Vietnam War activism.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans, about 10 percent of the population at the time, stood up to protest pollution in all forms and demanded a new way of doing business that took note of the costs of environmental damage.
The first Earth Day in 1970 helped inspire the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts, as well as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This year, earthday.org plans a nationwide cleanup day across the country, in addition to other events throughout the world. Check out the website for more information.
Locally, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will hold its annual Earth Day celebration − “Discover Wild New Hampshire Day” − at its headquarters in Concord on April 18. There will be exhibits by environmental and conservation organizations, live animals and trained falcons. You can also try a number of activities such as archery, fly casting, fly tying and BB gun shooting. There will be demonstrations by retriever dogs and other activities, as well, at this annual spring frolic for outdoorspeople.
Also on April 18, Stonyfield Organic in Londonderry is holding its annual Earth Day Fair with musical performances, vendor booths, nature hikes and a 5K road race.
As Bob Dylan would say, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” and you don’t need a group activity to celebrate Earth Day.
Here are some suggestions to get involved:
Plant a tree.
Go fishing. You’ll need a license if you’re 16 or older, and the fee supports Fish and Game and its stocking programs. (Check local regulations for open waters.)
Go birding. This doesn’t cost anything and you never know what might be flitting around your neighborhood.
Get perspective by checking out the night sky. If you get away from bright lights, you may even be able to locate the Milky Way. You’ll be standing on one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy called the Orion Arm, which lies about two-thirds of the way from the center of our home galaxy.
Visit a park, or better yet, volunteer to clean one up. Many towns in the state have park cleanup volunteers, including the stewards of Benson’s Park in Hudson.
Forgo water in plastic bottles.
Visit a tide pool. If you don’t want to get your shoes wet there are outdoor and indoor tide pools at the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne State Park in Rye.
A lot has changed in the half-century since millions assembled to support our home planet. In 1970, Richard Nixon was president, ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” were at the top of the music charts, the average car cost about $3,500, a gallon of gas was 36 cents and a stamp cost 6 cents. Today, there is one thing hasn’t changed – the need to celebrate and protect our home planet.