Counterculture and anti-war sentiment in the late 1960s drew attention to the environmental issues in public discourse. And although climate change was not a hot button topic until recently, the cultural and political norms of the 1970s gave rise to the celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 1970, for the very first time.
The idea came from Gaylord Nelson, then a Senator from Wisconsin, after being moved by oil spills on the coast of California in 1969. Nelson decided to move the public’s increasing awareness and passion in a unified direction by establishing a national day focused on the preservation of natural resources, clean energy, and environmentalism as a whole. Earth Day left such an impact that it triggered the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later that year, an agency focused on public health and the environment. The EPA has reached many milestones for the United States including the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Energy Policy and Conservation Act.
In an annual global tradition, April 22 is always full of events worldwide to honor our planet and support the fight against climate change. Last year, for instance, world leaders came together to sign the historical Paris Agreement–an effort the United States spearheaded. This year, the 47th Earth Day falls on the same week that the new administration is “reconsidering” our commitment to the accords.
This Saturday, Operation Free is celebrating Earth Day in order to emphasize how climate change is a serious threat to our national security. According to the military, climate change makes the world a more dangerous place. This is especially true for our troops who continuously answer the call to provide humanitarian aid in response to severe weather events brought on by climate change. Without our military’s support, weaker nations, who suffer the brunt of such extreme weather, could fall into the hands of violent extremist groups and become a breeding ground for our enemies.
It is clear that climate change is a threat we cannot ignore. We must use every tool at our disposal, including the Paris Agreement, to fight it. This Earth Day, on the inaugural anniversary of its signing, we must not shy away for our commitment but instead show our global partners that we continue to stand with them.
Don’t forget to let us know how you are celebrating tomorrow on twitter using #EarthDay2017 and tag @OperationFree!