The standard participation estimate is 20 million—around 10 percent of a nation then numbering about million. Even if that estimate was exaggerated, pictures from the time show large crowds across the country. Richard John Neuhaus, too, walked the bustling byways of New York that day, and was both impressed and distressed.
In it, he criticized the misanthropic elements of the environmental movement. Yet Neuhaus never denied there was a real reason for concern. Modern mountain-top removal coal mining rearranges landscapes on a gigantic scale, but it does so in rural places most of us will never see.
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Such detachment is typical. For an increasingly urban population content to visit a nice local park on those rare occasions we look up from our screens, today's environmental issues are too distant to arouse much passion. The landfill is tucked behind a hillside.
The slashed forest where the tiger once roamed is an ocean way. The plastic dumped into the sea daily by the ton is, thankfully, cleaned up regularly on our favorite beaches. Today, there are no American rivers on fire, and even if China wants to turn the sky black while serving as the workshop of the world, who are we to stand in the way of its development?
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Caring for creation is a niche concern among Americans and certainly among those who regularly attend church on Sundays—which brings us to Easter. By a quirk of the calendar, Earth Day this year falls on Easter Monday. Do these celebrations have any relevance for each other—or for anything else?
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Is Easter merely an ancient celebration for those who still cling to otherworldly superstitions, and Earth Day only an occasion for godless over-the-hill hippies to recall their glory days? Or, does the progression make some cosmic sense? We even made instruments out of recycled materials and had an earth symphony on the mall with Bash the Trash! But Earth Day is so much more than an event or a day on the calendar. It marks our commitment to protecting our environment the generations to come. So I ask you again, what does Earth Day mean to you?
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How did you celebrate? Have you made the commitment to take action every day?
I have! Conservation, as the organized love of nature was previously called, was a Teddy Roosevelt crusade, and besides, it was good to have the fierce energy of young, white, elitist demonstrators channeled into other than anti-war protests. Earth Day went global in with an expanded campaign that galvanized million people in countries and spurred recycling programs worldwide. That event was credited with laying groundwork for the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , where collective action on climate change began. Global environmental summits have now become a staple of the international community's efforts to fight pollution and climate change.
The number of participating countries reached in Today, that number is up to , and more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, coordinated by the Earth Day Network. It is supposedly the largest civic observance in the world. Earth Day Network is encouraging people to celebrate Earth Day's 41st anniversary with a campaign called "A Billion Acts of Green," which calls for people to do small acts of sustainability — such as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs or reducing the use of pesticides.
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