And while industrialized nations can be some of the guiltiest parties in crimes against nature, many developing nations need educating as well, for many of the most important marine and terrestrial ecosystems remaining on the planet are within their borders.
Each year for the past 40 years, Earth Day has been celebrated as a worldwide event whereby participants can take stock of their natural resources, learn what they can do to protect them, and contemplate how good stewardship would benefit themselves and generations to come. What Earth Day succeeds in doing in that one singular event has a rippling effect that carries on through the year.
From the Earth Day Network website, here are the Earth Day accomplishments for 2010 - an indication of the importance of those "building block" steps that go on behind the bright lights of flashier news items but can be just as important:
- In just a few months, Earth Day Network logged more than 30 million environmental actions towards the goal of a Billion Acts of Green™, from large scale climate petition drives to voter registration, city-wide light-bulb change outs, and massive coral reef and beach cleanups. Our goal is to reach a Billion Acts of Green by Earth Day 2011 to demonstrate to world leaders the global commitment to environmental change leading up to the Rio + 20 Summit in 2012.
- Earth Day Network created the largest climate activist program globally, with nearly one million participants. This represents the continuation of Earth Day Network’s goal to create a new worldwide movement to resolve climate change.
- Through the Global Day of Conversation, over 400 elected officials in more than 40 countries representing tens of millions of citizens took part in active dialogues with their constituents about their efforts to create sustainable green economies and reduce their carbon footprints. Mayors are leading the fight to reduce carbon emissions and to build the green economy.
- Over one million students abroad participated in school greenings from community-wide clean ups to installing solar energy systems to creating school gardens to adopting environmental curriculum.
- Earth Day Network announced a partnership with the Avatar Home Tree Initiative to plant a million trees in 15 countries in 2010.
- In partnership with the Peace Corps, Earth Day Network worked with local volunteers to implement environmental and civic education programs, tree-plantings, village clean-ups and recycling seminars in rural areas including Ukraine, the Philippines, Georgia, Albania and Paraguay. These efforts helped build environmentalism in the most remote parts of the earth for underserved communities.
- In Kolkata, India, we watched as our plans for a small series of sponsored events evolved into a nationwide presence, 17 cities large. Earth Day Network partnered with global and local NGOs and local government officials to coordinate city and village clean-ups, environmental rallies and educational programs for underprivileged children. Earth Day Network has plans to establish an office in Kolkata.
- In China, 10 universities participated in month-long efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of their communities. Students made lifestyle changes such as recycling and using public transportation to make a positive impact. Quantitative carbon reduction results will be announced in mid-May.
- In Morocco, the government announced an unprecedented National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development, the first commitment of its kind in Africa and the Arab world, which will inform new environmental laws for the country. The Kingdom of Morocco also pledged to plant a million trees in 2010.
- In Afghanistan, Earth Day Network worked with more than 40 government and village leaders across the country in environmental sustainability practices including recycling programs and the need for clean water and alternative energy.
- On April 22, the President of Mozambique led a country-wide tree-planting initiative in schools across Maputo.
- Earth Day Network greened 40 schools globally for Earth Day, launching its international green school program. From solar panels to school gardens, Earth Day Network is significantly cutting global carbon emissions.
- Earth Day Network partnered with Carbon War Room to convene 200 of the world’s most important entrepreneurs in a forum that examined groundbreaking ways to solve climate change and create a new green economy based on renewable energy. Click here for an address by Earth Day 2010 Chair, Denis Hayes.