Earth Day, April 22 – Critically needed now more than ever

Saturday, April 22 marks Earth Day which is a national day to focus on the environment, climate change, and sustainability.  We need this day now more than ever, as our global climate has been warming and numerous species of bees and animals are disappearing at alarming rates.   I’m proud to say that I hail from the state where this was founded – Wisconsin.  Gaylord Nelson, formerly a U.S. Senator from my home state, after witnessing massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1969 hoped he could inspire the emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, forcing environmental protection onto the national political scene.

On that day in 1970, over twenty million people demonstrated for a healthy and sustainable environment across the nation. Earth Day in 1970 achieved a rare political achievement, gaining support from Democrats and Republicans as well as people from all walks of life. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts to preserve our environment in a massive way.  Forty seven years ago, partisanship was put aside with the understanding that our environment was a precious resource for all people, not just something to be exploited for financial gain.

Earth from Space – Image courtesy of NASA

Earth Day has become a global event, mobilizing people in numerous countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage giving a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide. As a result numerous nations have made commitments to reduce their uses of fossil fuels and focus on clean, renewable energy sources.  Green technologies are not only good for the environment, they lead to high tech, better paying jobs. These benefits not only help the environment, they help humans across our planet.

We are at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, fossil fuel lobbyists, and reticent politicians are all fighting environmental consciousness and denying the scientific evidence that humans are changing our environment and that our climate is warming. Today we must continue the fight for a clean environment with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day.

Please participate in Earth Day–march if you can, or recycle, or send a letter to your government officials.  Locally there are numerous events: one major one is the March for Science which will take place at the University of Maine.  Emera Astronomy Center will be showing Dynamic Earth at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.  Earth Day Festival activities will also take place at Pickering Square in Bangor.  Please take part and show you care about our planet and its future for all creatures on this wonderful world!

Shawn Laatsch

About Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine. He started his astronomy education career in 1984 and has directed planetariums in university and science center facilities, taught undergraduate astronomy courses, and given numerous lectures around the globe. He serves as President (2017 & 2018) of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals. Shawn has a passion for sharing astronomy and stargazing with people of all ages.