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PEACE in Action

Earth Day: A Global Celebration


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Working for International Peace
Earth Day: A Global Celebration
{The following article is from World View, an ENewsletter to teachers in North Carolina from an organization of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC. Available online This article is from the April 2010 issue of World View; it relates to plans for Earth Day 2010. Hopefully it can give ideas to teachers and others around the world for celebrating Earth Day in 2011 and beyond.}

As advocates push Congress to adopt comprehensive climate legislation, we celebrate Earth Day’s 40th birthday.  Started in 1970, Earth Day represents a common day around the world to raise awareness for environmental issues, including policies and programs to protect our Earth and its resources.  As the internet has closed the digital divide, countries and communities across the globe are joining forces to help save our planet.  Beginning this year, the United Nations’ Mother Earth Day and Earth Day will coincide and the majority of the world will recognize April 22 as Earth Day.  Earth Day was started by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who wanted to bring attention to the deteriorating environment.  Originally, Senator Nelson’s plan was to a start nationwide “teach-in” on the environment on college campuses, but soon others realized they shared common concerns and values.  Grassroots organizations planned rallies, teach-ins, protests and more and soon the first Earth Day involved 20 million concerned citizens.  By 2007, it is estimated that close to one billion people participated in events all over the world.

Global Education in
North Carolina

Marion Elementary Connects with West Africa

In January 2009 the principal of Marion Elementary, Elaine Seals, traveled with a team to Senegal and Togo, West Africa.  One of the highlights of her trip was to visit The Good Samaritan School, whose principal is Mamadou, an education and Christian leader in his West African Country.  Her heart was touched. She saw great possibilities of Marion Elementary partnering with the Good Samaritan School.  The principals kept in touch through emails. Some of Marion Elementary’s classrooms also emailed the Good Samaritan School. They raised money to send to them at Christmas. Principal Mamadou and Principal Seals felt both schools could benefit from learning about and from each other.

To see how a friendship developed and students learned more about the world, click here.

Today’s efforts are coordinated by the Earth Day Network (www.earthday.org), which includes members from nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations, local governments, activities, and others interested in protecting the environment. This year’s events span 192 countries and 19,000 organizations, and 1.5 billion people are expected to participate globally.

Earth Day truly is a global celebration of our planet.  On the weekend of April 24, in major cities around the world, hundreds of thousands of citizens are expected to commemorate Earth Day’s achievements with large-scale events. The National Mall in Washington, D.C. is home to the annual flagship event. How do individuals across the globe come to honor our planet and galvanize change?

Here are just a few examples:

Global Day of Conversation
:  Similar conversations focusing on bringing green investment and building a green economy with mayors and other locally elected officials will be happening worldwide. The goal of these conversations is to form a collective voice for positive action on a global level, bridging borders, politics, policies, and action.

Athletes for the Earth Campaign
: Olympic, professional, and every day athletes are asking their communities, teammates, and fans to take action on behalf of the planet.  Their collective voice will help promote a solution to climate change and push for policy changes. To read more about what athletes are doing globally go to: earthday.org/campaigns/athletes-earth-campaign

Billion Acts of Green Campaign
:  BAGC is Earthday.nets core campaign. It utilizes individuals, organizations, communities, regional and national governments to organize service commitments on behalf of the planet. Through small and large scale environmental projects around the world, Billion Acts of Green sends a powerful message that people from all walks of life are committed to finding solutions to pressing environmental problems such as climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity, deforestation, and pollution. Activities range from tree planting to light bulb switch-out campaigns, home energy efficiency retrofits, school greening, and water projects. Everyone is invited to participate and contribute their own green act on Earth day and every day. You can find out what is happening in your community and state through the Billion Acts of Green Campaign website.

Arts for the Earth:  Similar to the Athletes for the Earth Campaign, artists around the globe will serve as ambassadors for the planet, communicating to their audiences the ever-growing threat of climate change.  The campaign involves hundreds of arts institutions and artists worldwide to create environmental awareness.  Visit Arts for the Earth to read about different artists from a variety of different mediums: music, photography, literature, and performing arts. The website also has information on programs and institutes that support Arts for the Earth.

Countries around the world are also making Earth Day a priority:

In North America, cities all across Canada will celebrate Earth Day and advocate collective environmentalism. Groups across the Great White North are offering programs to spur Canadians to more eco-friendly lives. There’s an Earth Day Festival in Edmonton; Recycling Awareness seminar in Prince Albert; a Plant-a-Tree Campaign in Kawartha Lakes, Ontario; an Earth Day Extravaganza in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; and cleanups and greenups in every province.
In Europe, Monaco will continue to host its annual Earth Day Swim, where participants will compete in a 2.5km open water swim. In Spain citizens will participate in numerous demonstrations across the country, all wearing a green ribbon in support of environmental awareness. Additionally, leaders from over 20 countries will meet in Sofia, Bulgaria April 22-24 for the World Energy Forum to honor Earth Day. 

In Africa, Morocco will announce an unprecedented National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, the first commitment of its kind in Africa and the Arab World.  The charter will guide policy in the country and future laws on natural resources, the environment, and sustainability.  Last year Ethiopians celebrated their first annual Earth Day, setting forth the goal of creating a “Green Generation,” that will give people the tools to advocate for green policies that protect their natural resources and lifestyles. This year four schools will come together for the Ethiopian National Youth Coalition for Climate Change. The students will be part of an Earth Day event to pass information on health, the environment, waste, and healthy living in their communities. The program also includes a Green School element, which will add green components to the school’s curriculum and allow students to participate in green projects throughout the school year.

In Asia, the World Dhammakaya Centre, located north of Bangkok in Thailand is welcoming over 100,000 Buddhist monks from 30,000 temples around Thailand for its Earth Day festivities.  In India nature walks for children will be organized by the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) in 14 cities. In each city there will be a Nature Trail followed by an activity for marginalized children to teach them about biodiversity in their environments and how they are connected to the planet. In Mumbai, India Sanctuary Asia will host a "Birthday Party for Mother Earth".  Children will attend fun-filled events that will focus on how and why they need to protect planet Earth.

In Central America, Project Green Jungle will be using Twitter for a project called Twearth Day, (a combination of Twitter and Earth Day), to upload information on the jungles of Costa Rica for six days.  Events include beach clean-ups, water quality testing, biological surveying, and a benefit concert. Teachers and students are encouraged to visit the website and follow the program: Twearth Day.

In South America, Bolivia will host the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth April 19-22. Governments from across the world (at least 90) are sending delegations to the event to debate and discuss climate change.  Scholars and celebrities are also expected to attend such as: scientist James Hansen, James Cameron, the director of Avatar, the linguist Noam Chomsky, author Naomi Klein of Canada, anti-globalisation activist José Bové of France, and actors Danny Glover, Robert Redford, and Susan Sarandon.

10 Tips for Going Green

1.  Make a scrap paper box for your classroom in which you can place a paper that has only been used on one side.

2.  Purchase recycled materials (such as pens, notebooks, and paper) for your classroom. Encourage parents, especially those who donate supplies to the classroom, to buy supplies made from recycled materials.

3. Remind students to turn off lights and electronics when they are not in use. Help remind students to make sure that taps are completely turned off in bathroom sinks.

4. Encourage your students to pack trash free lunches. Students can bring their lunches in reusable bags and place their food into reusable containers. Fruits and homemade sandwiches are great non-trash lunch items! Encourage all students to bring in reusable water bottles to keep at their desks.

5.  Grow a garden, visit a garden, or take a nature walk. When children experience conservation first hand, it helps reinforce a sense of responsibility towards protecting our planet.

6.  Encourage the use of group transportation, especially school buses (1 school bus = 35 cars)! Encourage students who live less than one mile from school to walk with a group of students to and from school. Did you know that only 30% of students living within a mile of their school walk to school?

7. Use environmentally friendly and recycled products to make posters on environmentally friendly school practices, and post them throughout the school.

8. Have your students organize an Earth hour, either in the classroom or school wide. Schedule an hour to turn off the overhead lights, turn off all electronics, and use only recycled materials to work on an activity.

9.  Initiate a recycling challenge with your other grade-level classrooms. The class with the lowest amount of waste at the end of the week gets a green party! Encourage students to bring their own utensils for class party days.

10.  Work with your PTA to encourage greening of all sorts of school activities and functions!

Earth Day Network  www.earthday.org and network.earthday.net/
A Ning social networking site for those interested in strategizing together around their plans for Earth Day in a atmosphere of support, discussion, and debate.

Environmental Protection Agency  www.epa.gov/earthday/events.htm
To find an event or volunteer opportunity in your community

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