A celebration is coming! Saturday, April 22 is the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, a day to honor the gifts we receive every day from our astonishing home planet.

The first celebration took place in1970 with an estimated 20 million people attending festivities nationwide. It was a remarkable grass roots uprising, growing out of the concern of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin who said: “We have only one Earth, so we need to take care of her.”

The groundswell of interest and concern came in part from then new scientific understanding of the dangers of some of our pesticides. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” became an instant best seller when it was published in 1962. Gradually public insistence led to national legislation including the Clean Air Act (1963) and the Clean Water Act (1972).

By the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990, more than 200 million people in 141 countries participated in celebrating the planet that supports our lives.

Current scientific understanding teaches us that our use of fossil fuels is changing the climate and that we need to adapt quickly or find life increasingly difficult. Sadly this knowledge conflicts with the financial interests of today’s decision makers. Scientific evidence of the crisis is roundly denied while corporate profits drive feverish exploitation of resources. At the same time we are distracted by endless war, itself the largest antagonist of all. Until the Pentagon’s carbon footprint is greatly reduced we cannot hope to turn the Climate Crisis around.

On this 47th anniversary there will again be celebrations all over the world in cities and towns and neighborhoods where people of all nations and creeds will honor the beautiful and nurturing planet that gives us air and water and sand and soil – all the building blocks needed for developing life and community and culture. In Washington DC there will be a massive March for Science (and one in Augusta as well) to build a “global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.” (earthday.org). We need to be clear about where it is we live, about what is really meant by “home”.

It wasn’t until December of 1972 that we could see a photograph of the Earth taken from Space. At the time we were in awe, amazed to be able to step outside our usual perspective. No longer is home simply a dot on the map. Seeing the planet whole shows us that the only boundaries are rivers, oceans and mountain ranges. Powerful lessons in belonging, humility and responsibility are given us with that image!

An Earth Day celebration was held ten days early at Brunswick’s Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School. Combining Earth Day and Poem in My Pocket Day before leaving on April break, students wrote about their favorite places on the Earth and, as some of their poetry was read aloud, the Earth Flag was raised up to join our National Flag amid cheers of excitement.

Here is a sampling of their remarkable talents for you to enjoy:

In early spring we go salimandering

The stream is cold and rocky

There……..over there….

A salamander!

Tiegan, grade 5

In spring I bring out my trampoline

I go Jump, Jump, Jump

With my sister right next to me

She double bounces me

I scream

And shout

Then fall.

Kamden, grade 5 I stand at the sea A warm summer breeze blowing I live in fun Maine

Ava, grade 5 The Trees Swaying in the breeze Their life is at ease Listening to the bees Let it be, please.

Wes, grade 5

The big green sphere that is our home

It has trees, bees and honeycombs

It is the only planet that can makes things grow

Should we desert it?

No, No, No!

It is the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen

It is all different colors especially green.

Our unique, living, Mother Earth!

Molly & Simone, grade 4

Earth is our home,

Earth is a place so let’s keep it clean

So we have space for new people to come

And others to go.

Nobody knows what we can do to Earth

So good to me and you

It helps us breathe and live too

All that we can ever do.

So let’s give 3 cheers to Earth above

Doing all that we love.

That’s Earth and how he rolls

Earth the good and all-beloved.

Katelun, grade 4

As we celebrate this Earth Day let us take a stand for our children’s future. May public insistence lead us to wisdom and loving care for all living things.

Rosalie Paul is a member of PeaceWorks. She lives in Brunswick.

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