Happy Earth Day 2020!

The Origin

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970. The year prior, 1969, John McConnell, an activist for world peace, freedom of worship, and a cleaner planet, proposed a day to honor the earth a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization conference in San Fransisco. The proposal was approved and the date for the first Earth Day was set for March 21, 1970.

After the first Earth Day celebration, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson proposed that there should be a nationwide teach-in on April 22, 1970, nearly a month after the first Earth Day.

Who do you think eventually won the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of their work and whose Earth Day is celebrated on their proposed date? Look at your calendar. Yep, it was Senator Gaylord Nelson.

Today, April 22, 2020, Earth Day is being celebrated in nearly 200 countries around the globe.

The Purpose

In short, Earth Day (well, the second one) was originally a day of activism. The teach-in called for by Gaylord Nelson was essentially an act of awareness and national protest against various forms of pollution. Pollution was an urgent concern of the day, particularly after the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill.

The purpose of Earth Day varies today depending on who you ask about it. For some, it is still seen as a day of activism against various form of pollution and climate change. For some, it is seen as a day of individual responsibility, this can be seen in the fact that in 2019, National Clean-Up day partnered with Earth Day to challenge people to clean up their towns and cities in honor of the planet. For some, Earth Day is just another holiday that doesn’t receive much action nor thought.

Christianity and the Environment

Francis August Schaeffer, a pastor and theologian, penned a book entitled, Pollution and the Death of Man.

The description of the book reads, “At the creation of the world, God gave mankind the responsibility to exercise dominion over the earth. Man was to use the earth and its abundance of resources to satisfy his physical needs, but he was also to care for the earth and its creatures as a wise and godly steward. Reading about endangered species or another oil spill will make it abundantly clear that the human race has failed miserably in its God-given mandate. How did we get to this point? Where should we go from here?”

If you are wanting to explore the topic in depth, I would recommend that you begin by ordering a copy of his book.

However, here is my very simplified and very brief call to action for Christians when it comes to the environment:

  • The Earth belongs to God, not us (Psalm 24:1)
  • God has given us it to manage (Genesis 1:28)
  • We are to meet its needs (Genesis 2:15)
  • We are to manage it kindly (Proverbs 12:10)
  • Managing it well benefits us (Proverbs 27:18)
  • We will give an account for how we manage (Revelation 11:18)

There is both an individual and a community responsibility when it comes to managing the Earth.

Ways to Manage Well

  • Have a political awareness of Earth-oriented discussions, voting matters, and policies at every level of government.
  • Mobilize a team in your local church to have a neighborhood (or citywide) clean-up day. Your city likely already has something like this, so you could even partner with them.
  • Have a canoe competition at your local river and see who can collect the most tires – include a prize as incentive.
  • Use a reusable water bottle and lunch box.
  • Learn to recycle -the process of learning the process is the hardest part, then it becomes as simple as throwing trash away, and in some instances, you are paid by your state to recycle.
  • Use energy-efficient electronics and unplug/turn-off what you are not using.
  • Repurpose items for as long as possible before throwing them away. It’s amazing how long the lifespan of a grocery bag can be.
  • Carpool places. It’s typically more fun anyway.

These are just a few ideas that come to mind. What other things do you do to manage the planet well?

Final Thought

The theme for Earth Day 2020 is Climate Action. Although mentioned on the Earth Day website (www.earthday.org), I’m surprised the theme wasn’t changed to Pandemics.

You can following along with today’s Earth Day Online by clicking here. * Based off of what I have watched so far this morning, there has been a lot of debatable content, but also a lot of inspiring individuals and initiatives. *