Do you find yourself constantly seeking out flower meadows in search of the perfect Instagram picture? Do you ever walk across campus, look up from your device, and feel astonished by the breathtaking plant life surrounding you? Well you can thank Mother Earth for her luscious, photo ready, eye-catching beauty. In fact, people everywhere thanked Earth last Saturday on the international holiday Earth Day.
“What even is Earth Day?” you ask.
Earth Day, recognized on Apr. 22 every year, is not only a celebration of the planet’s natural beauty, but a worldwide promise to protect it. The 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara was instrumental in the rise of the environmental movement and sparked efforts to establish a national day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson took the passion of anti-war protesters and applied to generating an environmental consciousness.
On the same day in 1970, 20 million people across the country gathered to urge awareness and eco-consciousness, in contrast to the over 1 billion people who participate today.
The first Earth Day did more than produce awareness; it caused actual change. By the end of 1970, these efforts resulted in the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Endangered Species, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts.
The 1970 Earth Day and following Earth Days show that individuals coming together can truly make an impact. Saturday celebrated decades worth of work and triumph.
In a government led by deniers of climate change, Earth Day was an effort for people to collectively support environmental protection and recognize that the fragility of the Earth.
Last Saturday, students put down their phones, closed their computers, and looked outside. Katee Gustavson, a first year environmental studies major, said, “I volunteered at Santa Barbara’s Earth Day festival in order to share the day with like-minded people and be introduced to the newest innovations that will hopefully change the world.”
Many University of California, Santa Barbara students feel as if they are lucky enough to attend one of the most beautiful schools in the world. As students and locals, they feel the responsibility to appreciate and protect it.
People in the community celebrated by going to an Earth Day festival, walking along the sandy Santa Barbara shores, going on a hike, or even simply making the effort to breathe fresh air. Tens of thousands of people attended the Santa Barbara Earth Day festival at Alameda Park, including the thousands who Marched for Science.
A main idea of this day was that alternative facts are the square root of negative one, or imaginary. The fact that humans have to fit into Earth’s equilibrium is real.
As much as Earth Day is about acknowledging the environment, it is also a reminder to continue respecting the planet and pursuing eco-friendly practices beyond Apr. 22.
Individuals can make a difference; reducing their carbon footprint by carpooling, riding bikes, taking public transportation, ditching water bottles, or even reducing meat intake. Issues like deforestation, climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity, and so many more are prevalent problems that activists feel the community must actively work against. Earth Day is more than a celebration; it’s a call to action and appreciation.