This 4K Earth View from the International Space Station is just perfect for Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22.
Earth Day was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, an environmentalist who strongly believed that grassroots action was critical to ecological preservation. As he wrote on the tenth anniversary in 1980:
My primary objective in planning Earth Day was to show the political leadership of the Nation that there was broad and deep support for the environmental movement. . .Earth Day 1970 made it clear that we could summon the public support, the energy, and commitment to save our environment. And while the struggle is far from over, we have made substantial progress. In the ten years since 1970 much of the basic legislation needed to protect the environment has been enacted into law. . .
The Earth Day Network has a nice page that puts his effort into the context of the times here. For a terrific roundup of other Earth Day lesson plans, reading lists, and classroom ideas, see this list from Edutopia. And for more background about the Earth and its processes, check out Chapter 2: The Earth, in WorldView Software’s World Geography program.
The need for ecological awareness continues. As Senator Nelson said:
So long as the human species inhabits the Earth, proper management of its resources will be the most fundamental issue we face. Our very survival will depend upon whether or not we are able to preserve, protect and defend our environment. We are not free to decide about whether or not our environment “matters.” It does matter, apart from any political exigencies. We disregard the needs of our ecosystem at our mortal peril.
The global treaty on climate change signing by more than 170 nations in New York marks an acknowledgement that such awareness must be followed by action: the agreed-on goal is to hold average global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Observers credit “both individual leadership and collective learning from past failures” for the scale and scope of the agreement.
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