Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news. Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962. The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.
Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.
The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. 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. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.
Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.
The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.
HA Schult’s haunting ‘trash people’ have graced the streets of many of the world’s most major cities … silently open to interpretation as they travel the world and sit everywhere from the parks of New York City to the Great Wall of China. It took Schult 6 months and 30 assistants to create these strange sculptures from crushed cans, computer parts and virtually anything else he could appropriate to assemble them. What is their purpose and meaning? It is difficult to say, but they are certainly trans-cultural and intended to engage, inspire and engender reflection in those who see them and are a foil to see the reactions of different nations and groups of people.
Dunedin Fine Art Center
A PODS unit in 2013’s Contain It! installation at Dunedin Fine Art Center.
Trashy Treasures and Contain It! are provocative titles of dual events at Dunedin Fine Art Center that are anything but. Both have been fun and successful fundraisers for several years and utilize the center and its lovely lakefront grounds. Trashy Treasures inside offers donated art and art supplies (someone else’s trash — get it?) at a silent auction on Friday and a “garage sale” on Saturday. Contain It! consists of PODS units scattered about the grounds in which artists and art collaboratives create environments, a form of installation art that has become popular internationally.
Practical issues of hunger and thirst are covered by food trucks and, new this year, a selection of craft beers.
Admission is free on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. . Dunedin Fine Art Center is at 1143 Michigan Blvd. For information, call (727) 298-3322 or visit dfac.org.
Garbage patches in the ocean aren’t piled-up islands of trash and debris, as is the common perception. But that doesn’t mean the tiny, swirling plastic bits are nothing to worry about.
In the Pacific Ocean, four ocean currents merge to form the North Pacific gyre, also known as the North Pacific Subtropical High, which spans the western US to Japan, and Hawaii to California. This enormous rotating vortex has collected floating garbage from across the Pacific, but much of the debris can typically be found in the calm center of this rotating area, often referred to as the “eastern Pacific garbage patch.” Keep in mind, however, that this is no island or blanket of trash that can be seen with satellite or aerial photographs—most of the floating trash is tiny pieces of plastic, many of them so small as to be invisible to the human eye.
Its vast size and the small size of the trash left the garbage patch largely unnoticed until the early 1990s, when Captain Charles Moore, head of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, sailed through a rarely traveled area between Hawaii and the mainland. Over the course of a week, despite being hundreds of miles from land, Moore watched a continuous stream of plastic trash float by. Although fishermen and sailors have noted the debris in this area for years, it was Captain Moore who brought the area into the public sphere.
While the garbage patch has received a lot of attention because of its size, it is not the only area where marine debris can be found: marine debris affects waters and coastlines around the world. Animals frequently become entangled in large pieces of debris, and can be cut, drowned, or slowed down by dragging the extra weight. Additionally, heavy gear, such as fishing nets, can damage reefs and other important habitats.
Because of its durability, low cost, and our increased use in recent decades, plastic makes up the majority of marine debris seen on shorelines and floating in oceans worldwide. This creates a difficult problem because most plastics are not biodegradable (bacteria don’t break them down into simple, harmless components the way they do paper or wood). Instead, as plastic ages, the sun’s light and heat break it into smaller and smaller pieces.
This tiny plastic confetti, along with larger pieces of floating plastic, creates a big problem. Birds, like the laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), and filter feeders that strain food out of the water may mistake plastic for plankton, fish eggs, or other food. On remote Midway Atoll, albatross chicks die of starvation and dehydration because their parents have unwittingly fed them bottle caps and cigarette lighters, which they can’t digest. Even in the protected waters surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, our trash threatens endangered species like Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles.
Scientists with agencies such as NOAA, and other institutions around the world, continue to research the impacts of marine debris, including the emerging area of microplastic debris (plastic that is less than 5mm) and its impacts on our marine ecosystems.
Pharrell recently announced plans to launch a new jeans collection with the denim label G-Star RAW. The collection, called G-Star RAW for the Oceans, will be created using fabric from Bionic Yarn. We’ve been sterilizing and melting down plastic bottles to make synthetic threads for years now but Bionic Yarn’s new thread will apparently originate with plastic waste pulled from the ocean. The details aren’t available yet, though. Hat tip Grist.
Culling plastic waste from the ocean won’t be easy. Plastic doesn’t float around in neat islands. It’s more like a disgusting soup. The fuel needed to remove the plastic and clean it could end up being more than the petroleum saved through recycling. Plus, if you ever forget how large the oceans are, think about the drifting cruise liner that’s been eluding discovery for a year.
If one person can make these herculean challenges seem doable, it’s probably Pharrell. He’s featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” — a song that even got a Russian police choir busting moves. There’s his huge meme-worthy hat. And he’s 40 years old but has such smooth skin that he recently had to dispel vampire rumors.
Finally, there’s this upbeat, catchy video about the jeans.
We’ll have to wait and see whether the technical aspect works out, but knowing Pharrell’s style, those jeans are going to be tight.
Illustration Credit: G-Star RAW and Pharrell via YouTube
RAW for the Oceans is a long-term G-Star collaboration with Pharrell Williams, owner of Bionic Yarn, that makes something fantastic with ocean plastic. For more information about RAW for the Oceans click here http://g-star.com/rawfortheoceans
Post originally featured on Discovery.
A five-year-old boy from California obsessed with garbage trucks got the surprise of a lifetime from the garbage man he religiously greets at his family’s home every Monday.
Daniel Mulligan, of Ojai, Calif., became fascinated by garbage trucks as a toddler after his mother, Robin Newberger, showed him YouTube videos of garbage trucks as a way to ease his fear of the trucks’ loud noise.
Daniel, who has autism, is drawn to the order and precision that comes with the weekly trash pickup and the organization of the trash cans, his mother says.
“He knows which trash can is going out on which day and notices them when we’re driving and notices if they’re out of line,” Newberger said. “We will literally be waiting outside for hours on trash day because he hears the truck in the neighborhood and can’t focus on anything else.”
On Monday, Daniel and his parents – Newberger and dad, David Mulligan – did their usual routine of waiting outside for the recyclables collector, Manuel Sanchez, to arrive, when Sanchez surprised them all.
Sanchez, an employee of a private, family-owned trash collection company, got out of his truck and presented Daniel with a toy garbage truck of his own.
The family was even more surprised when they realized it was the same toy truck that Daniel received at Christmas but accidentally broke it the same day.
“It was just amazing because it was the same one and Manuel had no idea,” said Newberger, who captured the moment on her phone and posted it to Facebook. “That made it all the more incredible to us.”
Newberger says that Sanchez jokingly asked Daniel, “Do you want this one too?,” pointing to his real garbage truck.
“I said, ‘He does want your truck,’” Newberger recalled, adding that Sanchez quickly got back into his truck after the exchange in order to finish his route.
Sanchez’s employer, E.J. Harrison and Sons, found out about their employee’s good deed and gifted him with a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
“This was something he did absolutely on his own,” company spokeswoman Nan Drake said of Sanchez, who has worked there for nearly a decade. “We’re so proud of him.”
The video of Sanchez giving Daniel the truck has gone viral, with more than 60,000 shares and 6,000 likes. The response has been so overwhelming that Newberger created a separate Facebook page, “The Gift,” as a place for parents of children with autism to share uplifting stories.
“I asked people to share the gifts about their kids because a lot of times, with kids with autism, it’s just about the struggle,” Newberger said. “I’m glad it’s showing the positive side of autism.”
“The response has been so overwhelming,” she said.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station has one less capsule and a lot less trash.
A commercial cargo ship ended its five-week visit Tuesday morning. NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins used the space station’s big robot arm to release the capsule, called Cygnus.
Cygnus is filled with garbage and will burn up when it plunges through the atmosphere Wednesday.
Orbital Sciences Corp. launched the capsule last month from Virginia under a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. The Cygnus delivered 3,000 pounds of goods, including belated Christmas gifts for the six-man crew and hundreds of ants for a student experiment.
The ants are still aboard the space station. They’ll return to Earth aboard another company’s supply ship, the SpaceX Dragon.
NASA is paying Orbital Sciences and SpaceX to keep the space station stocked.
Our product line provides well built, attractive, and cost effective multi-purpose storage solutions that save time and work. Made with pride in Oakhurst, California, we have a Trash Knight™ to suit your residential or commercial needs and budget.
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- “It was a pleasure meeting with you today to look at your bear resistant garbage can system. Based on what I saw today, our route drivers will be instructed to service a customer that has one of your units out at the curb, as long as they have not made any modifications to your design. If anyone has any further questions or concerns, please feel free to give them my name and number.” General Manager for Emadco Disposal Service, Inc., Oakhurst, CA
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