What can I do with my students during Earth Day on April 22, 2020, as this pandemic continues?
This year, 2020, marks 50 years of the Earth Day (https://www.earthday.org/) movement. It is important for students to understand why we recognize this day, so teachers can give students a historical perspective of this annual event.
Earth Day was founded 50 years ago by Senator Gaylord Nelson. A year prior, the senator was intrigued by the information shared by peace activist John McConnell at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conference. McConnell spoke about society’s lack of environmental awareness. People drove gas-guzzling cars using lead gas; oil spills had occurred; smog was prevalent; and rivers were so polluted that they literally caught fire. No one considered recycling or any actions that could be taken for a cleaner Earth. Senator McConnell led the charge to help the government understand that our planet was on a rapid downward spiral.
If this historical reflection does not interest your students, consider a relatable personality who has been recognized as a global environmental activist: Greta Thunberg, whose climate advocacy earned her acclaim as TIME Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. Other youth who have worked to save our planet are noted in this Project Learning Tree article: https://www.plt.org/story/young-environmentalists-examples.
Efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle have led to federal mandates to help clean up our planet. These efforts continue to effect change, and have inspired this year’s Earth Day theme, “Climate Action.” The Earth has endured enormous damage. We have to ensure that our youth are aware of this and take actions to make our planet sustainable for generations to come.
Image credit: https://bit.ly/2wA67Fz