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Earth Day

...A global gala

By Sabrina F Ahmad

“How often do you read the newspaper?" This is the question most teachers ask with the intention of embarrassing their students (of course they're not going to admit it!) In most cases, they get a satisfactorily negative answer. Then they lean back and grumble to their heart's content about the decline of the reading habit.

While there are still many who read for pleasure, you'll find a huge number of people balking when confronted by the spectre of a newspaper. That's because, when you open one, you are confronted by grim tales of crime and disasters and pollution. It's so easy to forget that life is still beautiful. There are so many things to appreciate about life on our home planet, unbelievable as it may sound to the typical urbanite.

This is a thought that gave birth to Earth Day, Earth Day, a global holiday to celebrate the wonder of life on our planet. The very first Earth Day was celebrated on March 21, 1970. The first Proclamation of Earth Day was by San Francisco, the City of Saint Francis, the patron saint of ecology. Designating the First Day of Spring, March 21, 1970 to be Earth Day, this day of nature's equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations where it is observed each year. Earth Day was firmly established for all time on a sound basis as an annual event to deepen reverence and care for life on our planet.

Earth Day is quite a big thing around the world. In America, the activities start as early as March 3, with themed nature treks, expeditions, hiking tours, seashore cleanup drives, and other programmes, all leading up to a big bonanza on March 21. For example, on March 18, the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center, Oyster Bay, New York hosted a 'Family Yoga in Nature' programme, designed for family members to bond with their inner selves, with their family members, and with Nature. On Thursday last, the health-freaks of Fayetteville, AR, came together for a 10-mile bicycle ride.

In Lagos, Nigeria, this year, they had a discussion forum on 'Leadership for Sustainable Development'. In developing countries, sometime it is not a problem of lack of policies but of badly designed ones. The question that was raised in this seminar was: "What is the calibre of leadership that can successfully deliver effective policies for sustainable development in this century?”

The disappearing wetlands has been a source of concern for Bangladeshis, so on March 22, the Management of Aquatic ecosystems through Community Husbandry (MACH) arranged for a 'Save the Wetlands' programme. This programme, which was observed in Sreemongol and Sherpur, included discussion sessions, followed by rallies in both areas. Other than that, universities and other educational institutes around the country had their own programmes to observe this day.

There were also various programmes all over Canada, starting from April 25 to April 27, including special dramas for children and other environment-based awareness programmes. These are just a few examples…

Earth Day is a big event all over the globe, and most countries have issues, be they social, political, or even environmental, that they want to address on this day, and everyone has a different way of observing this day.

Earth Day has already passed, but should its spirit die down for the rest of the year? Just for one day, you could chuck all negative thoughts out the window, and try to be optimistic about life around you. Yes, there is crime, there is pollution, and there is always human conflict. There are also many opportunities to do so. It doesn't have to be something big. Plant a tree. Smell the flowers. Give the rickshaw-wallah an extra tip. Call your Grandparents up and surprise them. Tell your boss how important s/he is to you. Why do you have to wait for March 21 to do any of these? If every day was celebrated, cherished and lived in the spirit of Earth Day, the world would be a much better place…and we'd probably read the paper more often.



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