As a parent, I try to model the behavior I want to see in my daughters. Each Earth Day, we talk about and do things to reinforce how important it is to take care of our planet. I also take advantage of many teachable moments throughout the year to talk about environmental stewardship, but it’s nice that there is a special day each year devoted to environmental issues. The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. An estimated 20 million Americans gathered to demand action on the environment from themselves and their elected officials. The event proved there was a real concern for environmental issues across the country. Every year for Earth Day, our family gathers supplies and heads out to clean up our neighborhood and local playground. It has become a favorite tradition. We end up doing this a few times during the spring, summer and fall. It is extremely windy in our lovely Great Plains state of North Dakota, so garbage often blows in and needs our attention many times during the non-snow months. Each year, the Earth Day Network, the group founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day to coordinate the annual day of action that builds and invigorates the environmental movement, focuses awareness toward a theme. The global theme for this year is “The Face of Climate Change.” This theme was chosen because of the need to “highlight the mounting impact of climate change on individuals around the world.” Many climate change milestones marked the year 2012:
- Arctic sea ice recorded a record low in September 2012 — 18% less than previous record, nearly 50% below average.
- The U.S. experienced its hottest year ever; this, after the World Meteorological Organization announced that the first decade of this century was the hottest on record for the entire planet.
- Public perception of extreme weather events as “the new normal” grew as unusual super storms rocked the Caribbean, the Philippines and the northeastern U.S.; droughts plagued northern Brazil, Russia, China, and two-thirds of the U.S.; exceptional floods inundated Nigeria, Pakistan and parts of China; and more.